Iran-Taliban nexus: the new US doctrine

Trump administration appears to create a justification for an attack on Iran, targeting its nuclear installations

Rustam Shah Mohmand January 16, 2021
The writer is a former chief secretary K-P and former ambassador

On January 12, just days before the Trump administration would depart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a startling disclosure. He told the world that the Taliban have found a new home in Iran and that Tehran had offered the group safe haven to carry out attacks in other countries — i.e. Afghanistan. He noted that links between the Taliban and Iran had been developing for some time and acknowledged these contacts had not been monitored by US agencies. A few days before this disclosure, the US designated the Houthis as a terrorist group. Pompeo gave no details or evidence of the Taliban having established a base in Iran with Tehran’s approval and support.

The timing of this declaration is important. A lame duck administration making such an allegation in its last week in office is puzzling and bizarre. But there is a method in this madness. Few would believe or accept the rationale given by the outgoing Secretary because he failed to produce any evidence of Iran offering to host the Taliban. Tehran remains a steadfast opponent of the Taliban ideology even though in recent years it has maintained contacts with the group in order to combat the menace of Daesh.

The Islamic State movement poses a threat to Iran’s eastern border areas mainly inhabited by Sunnis. The ostensible goal of the Trump administration appears to create a justification for an attack on Iran, targeting its nuclear installations. That would please Israel. But such a strike on Iran’s nuclear installations would cause chaos and instability in the region including the Persian Gulf area.

Iran would not acquiesce in tolerating such an onslaught on its liberty. The seeds of a wider conflagration would have been sown. The other objective that may be sought to be accomplished is to tie the hands of the incoming Biden administration in its endeavours to restore normalcy and open a new chapter of relations with Tehran.

The TalibanIran agreement claim could be intended to thwart any possibility of the US rejoining the JCPOA — which was reached after hard negotiations with Iran under the Obama administration. The landmark agreement commits Iran to the set constraints on the development of its nuclear programme and was welcomed by the world, barring a few Gulf countries.

The thinking in the Trump administration is that any perceived linkage between the Taliban and Iran would spread panic and the Congress would block any reconciliatory move aimed at the US returning to the JCPOA. The move seems to be motivated by the powerful Israeli lobby. Israel has declared many times recently that it would not allow Iran to develop any nuclear weapons. The Zionist state is in possession of huge arsenal of nuclear weapons that has the potential to strike targets thousands of miles away.

The Trump presidency is on course to making bogus assertions misleading the American public. It has played havoc with the world order in the last four years. Its withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and from the Trans Pacific Trade agreement was an act only a deranged mind could contemplate and act upon. Leaving the Iran agreement was another blow to peace prospects in the region.

Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and encouraging Israeli settlements were all steps that would create more divisions and hostility without any dividend. What is shocking is that in all these draconian actions the President was supported by the Republican Party.

There was hardly any dissenting voice when Trump began to unleash his irrational initiatives. That creates huge doubts about the continuing resilience of American institutions. It is for the saner elements in Congress to assert their presence and restrain a president whose mental fitness is now questioned across the US, from undertaking any last minute catastrophic ventures which would boomerang and adversely affect America’s global position and prestige.


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