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IRAN: No Afghan peace without Tehran, former Reagan administration official says


Another day, another horrific attack in Afghanistan.

This time a suicide bomber managed to get inside Kabul's heavily-guarded Information and Culture Ministry building and blow himself to smithereens, killing at least three other people, according to a report from Kabul by the Los Angeles Times' Laura King.

With Iraq appearing to simmer down, Afghanistan will continue as one of the greatest challenges for the next president.

According to an Oct. 24 opinion article in the Boston Globe, written by former Reagan administration diplomat Lawrence J. Kolb and his colleague Laura Conley, there will be no peace in Afghanistan unless the U.S. comes to terms with Iran, which now holds enormous sway over certain parts of the country.

Korb and Conley argue that the U.S. botched an opportunity to reward Iran's good behavior in 2001, when it helped Washington overthrow the Taliban. If the U.S. wants to win in Afghanistan, it must talk with Iran, they argue:

The United States has little to show from its diplomatic silence with Iran. Since being inducted into the axis of evil, Iran has proceeded with its nuclear enrichment program. It has also expanded its influence in the Middle East courtesy of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the election of a Shi'a-dominated government there. Meanwhile, the United States has faltered in Afghanistan, with troops increasingly paying the price. ... While U.S. efforts in Afghanistan do require more troops, any success will not come without a renewed commitment to diplomacy and the engagement of Afghanistan's neighbors. Iran is the indispensable player in this process.

The sentiment was also echoed by New York University Afghanistan expert Barnett Rubin in an essay he co-wrote with Sara Batmanglich for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies.

They argue that even if the U.S. and Iran can't come to terms on the issue of the Iranian nuclear program and Tehran's support for militant groups fighting Israel, they can agree on Afghanistan's future:

One issue that may require U.S.-Iranian cooperation is the need to hold a presidential election in September 2009, according to the Afghan constitution. The security conditions are hardly conducive to such an election; even if it were held, the results are much more likely to be contested in the streets than were the results in 2004. Iran is in a position of influence with many of the leaders who might challenge President Karzai and can either aggravate or mitigate the aftermath.

--  Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: An injured woman is assisted after a suicide bomber targeted the Information and Culture Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit: Syed Jan / EPA

P.S. Get news from the Middle East in your mailbox every day. The Los Angeles Times distributes a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, as well as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates" and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.

Comments () | Archives (4)

Who ever get elected in the USA presidential election will face the threat of Iran directly. The Islamic republic of Iran is challenging the USA in the Middle East. The current US Government policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the Middle East failed to accomplish any meaning full result.
Now new President will have to choice between the failed doctrine of supporting thieves, corrupt politician in the region for their support or have meaning full plan to support people in the region for Peace and prosperity.
The US Government could support the Aryan (Iranian) Economic Union (AU) similar to the Europeans Economic Union (EU) after world war II which our group proposed to help Iranian people for accomplishing such a Union which could lead to the Economic and democratic Union of Aryan people and Turkish people in one large Economic Union to balance Russian, Chinese and the Arab Economic Union. The AU will be friendly to the USA, Europe and Israel thinking instead of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) terrorist ideas. If IRI get what they want by negotiation or force the USA out of Middle East then the people in the region will be terrorized by the Islamic Shitte and Islamic Sunni extremist which in the end will pull in the Europe and the USA to war too.
The new President has to face War and peace in the region now or later.

Omid- Personal attacks on me do not address the substance of my points. I also happen to be a soldiers who has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and saw first hand the weapons I refer to in my comments. I can tell you that President Bush was responsible for sending us there but the made in Iran stamp on the mortar shells we collected daily tell a different story as to the responsibility of Iran in their deaths. Your argument that we should attack Saudi Arabia is only meant to distract from the argument- a petty rhetorical tactic- not logical.
If as you say we are there to control the region, why did we did we give Kuwiat back to the Kuwaitis? Wow that would have been easy- a permanent air craft carrier in the sand where we could have stationed all our troops to 'control the region' as you say. As an American I would have thought you would understand history. Where has the US invaded and not given the country back to its people? South Korea, Japan, Germany, Kuwait- the list could go on. Iraq has a democratically elected government that may now ask us to leave. That would actually be tribute to our cause- IF they can handle their security. US soldiers have provided the people of Iraq and Afghanistan an historic opportunity- they have taken small steps- democratically elected governments that are making their own decisions. Iranians look across the border and while they are fearful of the violence in those countries (one reason for Qods Force support to the violence there), they are jealous of the political freedoms they themselves lack. Iran wants us out of Iraq and Iranian regime doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are they going use their power there like they have with Hizballah and Hamas in the Levant? Will they leave those nascent democracies to themselves to develop? Not likely.

To Gorg, you are ignorant. You , like most of the blind, think that by bullying your way through life you can achieve peace. Violence only begets more violence. As for the dead US soldiers, may they rest in peace, the person solely responsible for their death is american president George Bush, who has constantly lied to the american people. The american people have only themselves to blame by remaining complacently stupid. The truth is available but they refuse to look at it because it is easier to believe the falsehoods they are told by american news agencies rather than to do their own research. I live in the US and am an american and I can see through the lies as can most US soldiers that have toured Iraq and Afghanistan. They know that we are not there for peace and democracy, we are there for control over the region. That is wrong. If the US was in the middle east to spread peace and democracy, then target number one should be Saudi Arabia, a country which is not a democracy, where women are not allowed to vote or own property, and has the largest oil reserve in the world. But no, we just kiss their asses because they sort of do what we tell them to and they have oil. Please Gorg, do some unbiased research and open your mind. If the US were to actually be diplomatic with Iran instead of issuing constant threats and unwarranted sanctions (due to the fact that the IAEA wants Iran to prove that it is not diverting unaccounted fuel...all nuclear fuel has been accounted for), then the world would follow suit, peace could be achieved, and the US would regain its international credibility as the world's leader, not the world's bully.

Oh yes Iran will want to help the US in Afghanistan. Sure, they will do that. The US has had more talks with the Iranians in the last 4 years as we have in the previous 20. It did nothing to protect the men and women from their bombs. Have we told the families of these soldiers who was responsible for their death? WAKE UP! They are giving weapons to the Taliban! No body believed it in Iraq either until the bombs and rifles as evidence was given out for examination. The Afghans wont admit it because they are scared. When are we going to quit thinking we can charm the Iranian regime? When are we going to accept that the regime cannot survive without hostility towards the US? When are we going to realize that the Iranian people are being led by terrorist of the same ilk as AQ?


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