Friday, June 13, 2014

Mosul 2014 and Herat 2001

The present crisis in Iraq may constitute a very apt point in time to reflect upon the limited U.S./Iran cooperation that took place in late 2001. 

Yahya Rahim Safavi in 2004
Reuters reports today that there are internal discussions amongst leadership elements in Tehran regarding the increasingly dire situation in northern Iraq.

Iran is clearly open to the idea of cooperating with the U.S. in aiding Maliki and combating the alarmingly growing reach of the ISIL in Iraq.

Iran says it is open to sending in weapons and advisers to aid Maliki but it probably won't be sending in a substantial amount of, if any, troops to aid Baghdad. The U.S. has made similar pronouncements. While stressing that they are considering all options, including employing air strikes in support of Baghdad, the U.S. is also strongly hesitant about putting boots on the ground.

Iran-U.S cooperation post-1979 isn't at all unprecedented. In November 2001 the Iranian Qods Force then commanded by Pasdaran commander Yahya Rahim Safavi cooperated with United States Special Operations forces in the liberation from Taliban rule of the city of Herat in Afghanistan.

Cooperating with U.S. General Tommy Franks the Iranian component of that multinational operation was carried out with close U.S./Iran intelligence cooperation.

U.S. air power made easy work of tanks and tunnel networks around Herat to disrupt Taliban control, command and defense and Iranian commandos stirred up an insurrection against Taliban rule there to head off the entrance into the city of the Northern Alliance along with some American and British commando forces.

As is the case with the ISIL today the Taliban in power in Afghanistan was a threat to Iran. Iran had nearly went to war with the group after it had massacred Iranian diplomats sent in to Afghanistan in order to negotiate with the Taliban after that group had ruthlessly massacred Shiite Hazara's in Afghanistan.

Common interests between Tehran and Washington in the immediate post-9/11 period briefly trumped long-held animosities as mutual cooperation was feasible and desirable. Iran was then under the more reformist-oriented Khatami. Its president today is one who was elected on the grounds of his advocacy of more productive relations between his regime and the United States. One could argue the finer points of what such a cooperation between U.S. and Iran in Iraq now could entail but for once one thing is sure in that region, an ISIL victory today in Iraq is detrimental to the majority of Iraqi's, the majority of Iranians and the United States.

4 comments:

A.A. said...

Very good analogy. But instead of Afghanistan in 2001, you could have also compare it to Iraq itself in 2003. After the cooperation between the US and Iran in 2001, which was of course denied at that time but proved critical, Iran also supported the US war effort in Iraq afterwards. Much to the surprise of Saddam Hussein, as the first salvos of missiles came from the east over Iranian territory, not in the scenarios of the Baath regime, hence no focus of defences there.

Ironically, the cooperation of the Islamic regime was obviously interpreted as a sign of weakness, putting them in the "Axis of Evil" and eyeing campaign for Iran 2005 or 06. Thereby the US not only sabotaged the reform movement in Iran, presenting them on platter to the hardliners, but also ultimately destroying their own plans and ambitions, by provoking the Iranians into action.

Anonymous said...

I think Iran should fully cooperate with the US to get rid of the terrorists. It is not in the interest of Iran to have such a vast territory to its West under crazy extremists rule who want to kill Christians and even Shia Muslims as soon as they get the opportunity. Hope Iran and US can find common ground to combat these groups.

Renny Y. said...

While cooperation between Iran and the U.S. would be a fascinating turn of events, it will not happen anytime in the near future. Perhaps some sort of implicit 'dividing of enemies' could occur in Iraq, or an off-the-books black-book mission could occur. But any public cooperation is absolutely untenable in Washington, short of a militaristic Ghandi winning presidency in 2016.

Perhaps there is some hope that an implicit level of cooperation, perhaps arranged through the talks over Iran's nuclear program could lead to a gradual thawing of relations. But the idea of Iran as a deadly enemy to Israel, and the US has been pounded into the American public, to the point where most elites believe it as well.

But in all honesty, there is an ocean of bad blood between the two countries, and it would be easier to part the red sea than bridge the divide between Washington and Tehran.

Anonymous said...

But the idea of Iran as a deadly enemy to Israel, and the US has been pounded into the American public.....

amazing what listening to the words, and watching the actions of Khomeini did to turn Americans toward loathing of his regime.