Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Uprising Changes Everything Part III: Exposing Iranian Treachery In Afghanistan

"The Iranian government has finally exposed itself as a theocratic, totalitarian regime," says Afghan student leader Mohammed Faqiri, at Herat University. That's fast becoming the mainstream view among young Afghans, says Faqiri, 23. "Iranian leaders are trying to hang onto power by killing people and destroying their free media." In Kabul, meanwhile, Tehran's malignancy has been coming under increasing fire in mainstream Afghan society, owing to the operations of the sinister cleric in the photograph, Mohammed Asif Mosehni, Tehran's ayatollah in Kabul.

Mohseni (in this profile, he is revealed as a cunning manipulator of Afghanistan's already divided Shia community and is said to have once murdered a man who objected to him marrying a 14-year-old girl) was the driving force behind the Afghan "rape law" that attracted headlines around the world a few weeks ago. The controversy allowed "anti-war" groups to lay the law at the feet of the so-called "occupation" forces in Afghanistan. As noted in my Tyee column Monday (see also Part I) the law was in fact written in Tehran and drew directly from the "Law Supporting the Family," which stalled in the Iranian parliament in 2008 following an open revolt led by Iranian women.

The news media in "the west" only occasionally bothers to notice Tehran's efforts at subverting Afghanistan's democratic progress and has paid little attention to Mosehni's dirty work on behalf of the Tehran regime. An exception is this important France 24 exposé, which revealed something of the goings-on at Mohseni's opulent Khatam-al-Nabyeen centre in Kabul. It's a huge mosque and a university-sized madrassa, and its radio station and a television station are run by Afghan "journalists" who are reportedly trained in Tehran, where they are hosted by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. An especially revealing aspect of the France 24 exposé is the way the western media persists in giving the impression that the Khomeinist-inspired "rape law" enjoys the support of Afghanistan's Shia minority (here's especially embarassing example, via Reuters, from just last week).

Iranian Afghanistan expert Niamatullah Ibrahimi says Mohseni's media operations present "a nearly exclusively Iranian political outlook.” In Mohseni's pro-Tehran propaganda, opponents of the Iran-sponsored "rape law" are branded as agents of a "Jewish-Christian conspiracy.” In this way, as Iranian Afghanistan-watcher Muhammad Tamir sets out in this excellent overview, the Tehran regime's propaganda line on Afghanistan is indistinguishable from what you'll hear from the so-called "anti-war" movement in the west: "The Afghan people do not see any improvement in their lives and welfare as it was promised to them. Moreover, they are forced to bow to the presence of foreigners on their land and suffer the shame of occupation. Now the Afghan people know that America's goal in attacking Afghanistan and occupying it was part of the global plan America pursues for domination of the Middle East."

Afghan foreign minister Ragin Spanta has long warned about Tehran's duplicitous interference in Afghan affairs, with "a vast and solid network of influence" in Afghanistan. "No one knows what harvest Tehran hopes to reap from what it has sown," he says.

It may be that Iran's political and propaganda efforts to undermine Afghan progress have gone largely unnoticed in the "west" because of a preoccupation with sketchy reports and rumours that Tehran is directly funding and arming jihadists groups, including both the Taliban and the Hezb-e-Islami armed wing run by Tehran's former warlord-of-choice from the civil war days, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. But recent events may be helping to clarify matters.

Last year, a Taliban commander reported that Iran is supplying the Taliban with landmines, which may or may not mean the landmines are coming directly from the Tehran regime. But last May, Richard Boucher, the U.S. assistant secretary of state, said the evidence for Iran's political skulduggery is overwhelming, "Iranian interference politically, Iranian interference in terms of the money that they channel into the political process, Iranian interference in terms of playing off local officials against central government, trying to undermine the state in that way."

Earlier this year, the Pentagon was claiming that Iran was making efforts "to supply weapons and training" to Afghan armed groups, and the Spanish news media obtained a military-intelligence report which contained an account of Hekmatyar meeting with senior government officials in Tehran as recently as 2005. Only last month, Afghan border police said interceptions of mortars and landmines had become a regular occurrence on the Iran-Afghanistan frontier, and U.S. military officials claim to have killed a Taliban commander directly backed by Iran's Qods Force, a branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Whether or not that proves true, it's no secret that lately, Tehran has also been enthusiastically courting Afghan president Hamid Karzai, whose government is fast becoming a corruption-laden pariah in western capitals, and needs all the friends he can get.

But while everybody's chasing down ludicrous "it's all about oil" conspiracies, all the real plotting and sedition goes largely unreported.

In Kabul, Mohseni's operations have been in full view for years, but they barely rate a mention in the "west." In Herat, which is seething with Tehran's agents and spies, the corruption and bankruptcy of the Iranian regime is now exposed in particularly stark relief. "This is the start of an important revolution in Iran," says Afghan constitutional law professor Mohammad Rafek Shahir in Herat. "We are impressed with the Iranians and their struggle for change, but with what has happened in the past weeks, Iran's influence here has been devastated."


Blogger . said...

Great shot! Love it. I too have an article about Iranian weapon business in Afghanistan. Check it out.(if you like you can follow my blog. I already have added yours to my favorites.)

Also, it's good to see you have been working on covering various aspects of Afghanistan and its concerning issues.

Best of luck


2:25 AM  
Blogger Conor Foley said...

Why do you call Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Tehran's warlord of choice Terry? I always thought they supported Ismail Khan and Wahdat during the civil war - and that is about as far as you can get from Hekmatyar.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Hi Conor.

I wrote that Hekmatyar "was" Tehran's warlord of choice; he's Tehran's "former warlord-of-choice from the civil war days." If I'm not mistaken, Iran provided him with refuge in 1997, and he was based in Iran for several years thereafter.

1:03 PM  

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