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Taliban’s Thrust: No Surprise, but Maybe an Opportunity

9 79 1
18.08.2021

There’s no disputing the fact that the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan – which is provoking a sense of déjà vu from 30 years ago and also, rightly, recalls scenes from Vietnam in 1975 – is seriously harming the United States’ standing in the world and is casting a shadow over the Middle East too. As one of America’s strategic allies, Israel is certainly hurt by the image of the superpower in decline. But in terms of international relations and interests, what is happening in Afghanistan is not a zero-sum game.

China and Russia, America’s rivals for world hegemony, also need to be concerned. The Taliban could try to export terror to Central Asia in order to destabilize the “stans” – primarily Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. China, which is oppressing its Muslim Uyghur minority, shares this fear.

The same goes for Iran. The establishment of a Taliban government in Kabul by a Sunni movement with a religious-fundamentalist ideology does not bode well for the Shiite regime in Tehran. And from that point of view, Israel could benefit in an indirect way.

Iran has a lengthy 950-kilometer (590-mile) border with Afghanistan, in the vicinity of Balochistan, a province that straddles the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. On the Afghan side, the border has been controlled by means of three properly managed crossings that have now been seized by the Taliban, whose personnel are now rubbing shoulders with the Iranian border guards. But most of the area is wide open to smugglers, thieves and Balochi Sunni militias that are opposed to the Iranian regime and sometimes launch hit-and-run terror attacks on it.

According to foreign reports, the Mossad exploited the situation to smuggle across these borders Iranian Jews whose lives were in danger or who were barred from leaving their country in the 1980s and 1990s (and ended up in Israel).

Until about a decade ago, the most prominent of Sunni militant organizations in the area was Jundallah (“God’s Soldiers”), also known as the People’s Resistance Movement of Iran. Jundallah was founded in 2002 with the aim of protecting the Balochi minority from discrimination in Iran, primarily in Sistan and Balochistan Province. The regime in Tehran maintains that the movement was behind numerous terror attacks in recent years and has accused it of conspiring with Al-Qaida, and of receiving support from the Pakistani intelligence service ISI, the British MI6, the American CIA and the Mossad in order to undermine Iran’s central government. During his tenure as Mossad chief in the first decade of this millennium, Meir Dagan often spoke about Iran’s complex ethno-religious mosaic, including the Balochi Sunnis, as one of Iran’s........

© Haaretz


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