Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Karzai Illusions

Karzai with Ahmadinejad in Kabul today . Reuters

President Ahmadinejad arrived in Kabul today for talks with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai. On the eve of his arrival, the intelligence officials in Balkh province had reported seizing 100 Iranian-made improvised explosive devices (IED) intended to be used for blowing up gas and oil installations in the region. During a press conference in Kabul, Ahmadinejad declared that Iran was not supplying Taliban with the weapons.

The warm reception given to Ahmadinejad in Kabul coupled with the claim by the Afghan intelligence officials of Iranian involvement in the shipment of the deadly IED’s to the Taliban show the complex realities facing Karzai. His government’s powerlessness to tackle many of the growing problems in Afghanistan may have created a sense of disappointment and despair for Karzai, putting him under many illusions, chief among them his belief that Iran is “a helper and a solution” to problems in Afghanistan.

Iran’s interest in the region, in the face of growing internal dissatisfaction with the government, is to keep tensions high. This would allow bullying the loyal opposition into inaction and cracking down on any dissent in the name of preserving the national unity. The Islamic Republic has used this track successfully ever since its foundation. The US hostage crisis of early days created the pretext to crush the moderates within the government and the opposition outside of it. Karzai needs to be skeptical at Ahmadinejad’s claim that the Islamic Republic’s mission in the world is to spread “justice, love and kindness.”

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