Afghanistan is doomed to become a victim of the US-Iran conflict
Recently, one of the main themes of the world media has been the discussion of the possibility of a military strike by the United States or Israel on Iran. What are the consequences of an American strike on Iran? First of all, for neighboring Afghanistan, where the thousands of US and NATO forces are deployed, which can be used to conduct a military operation against Tehran.
In the event of the beginning of an armed conflict between the US and Iran (American political analyst Zbigniew Brzezinski does not exclude the possibility of attacking Iran in October 2012), the western and southwestern parts of Afghanistan find themselves in a zone of heightened danger and, possibly, hostilities. It is primarily about the provinces of Herat, Farah and Nimroz.
According to experts from the Center for the Study of Modern Afghanistan (TsISA), the armed conflict between the United States and Iran will mainly be a series of massive aviation and missile strikes by the United States and its allies (Great Britain, Israel) on Iranian nuclear facilities, elements of Iranian military infrastructure, oil pipelines and other targets. Given the presence on Afghan territory of several large US air bases in Bagram, as well as on the territory of Herat province, primarily at the air base in Shindand, there is reason to believe that the US Air Force combat aircraft deployed there will take part in attacks on Iranian targets.
A key role in ensuring US air attacks on Iran from Afghan territory is likely to be played by the military airfield of the Shindand base. Built by Soviet specialists, it is located on the northern outskirts of the district center of Herat province, the city of Shindand. Currently, Afghan, American and Italian forces are stationed at the air base. The city of Shindand is located near the highway of the ring road, which was recently laid in all the western regions of Afghanistan. This highway can be used to transfer American and British forces directly to the Iranian border in the provinces of Herat, Nimroz and Farah.
In case of successful air and rocket attacks on Iranian nuclear infrastructure, most of which, according to information from open sources, are located in northern and northeastern Iran, in relative proximity to the Iranian-Turkmen border, complications of the radiation situation in these areas cannot be ruled out. The extent of possible radiation contamination may be such that it also affects parts of the Afghan province of Herat, directly adjacent to the Iranian border.
Despite the fact that the main combat content of the Iranian-American conflict will be air strikes, one should also expect the use of special forces units of the United States and Great Britain on Iranian territory. Such units, trained in specific conditions and tested by combat in the course of performing special tasks in Afghanistan, are located in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, as well as in a number of northern Afghan provinces. These parts can be used for sabotage and other special actions on the territory of Iran. In particular, to assess the results of missile and air strikes on nuclear facilities, to perform tasks on the control sweep of areas containing nuclear infrastructure, as well as to physically eliminate or capture personnel of nuclear facilities that survived a series of air strikes.
Materials, documents and prisoners discovered during special raids into Iranian territory can also be transported to Afghan territory and placed on the infrastructure of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan.
IRAN READY NOT ONLY FOR DEFENSE
The Iranian military, which probably assumes the possibility of using the Afghan territory to secure an air strike by the United States, can launch preemptive strikes and “retaliation strikes” on the US and NATO facilities on Afghan territory accessible to the Iranian Air Force and missile forces. In addition, Afghan military and civilian targets in the provinces of Herat, Farah and Nimroz may be subject to Iranian counterstrikes.
Obviously, the main target for the Iranian Armed Forces will be the Shindand air base. One can expect retaliatory strikes by the surviving Iranian Air Force on this air base, as well as ground attacks from the special forces of Tehran. Participation of separate detachments of Taliban fighters and the Islamic Party of Afghanistan (IPA) Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on the side of Iran is not excluded. As military and political tensions escalate between Tehran and Washington, we should expect the transfer of Afghan militant groups controlled by Iran and their concentration in the provinces of Herat, Fararh and Nimroz, as well as in Helmand, where the main forces of the British contingent are located, and the activation of anti-American combat groups in these provinces.
The likelihood of a retaliatory strike by the Iranian armed forces against a major population center in Afghanistan cannot be ruled out. These may be the cities of Herat, Shindand, Torgundi (Kushk county, Herat provinces). The goal of "retaliation" will be the desire to cause discontent of the Afghan population with the Americans, who by their actions against Tehran provoked a retaliatory strike by Iranian forces.
We should also expect large-scale attacks by militants from among the groups of Taliban and IPA sympathizing with Tehran on American facilities in Kabul, in general, the growth of militant activity against the US and NATO garrisons in Afghanistan.
The US attack on Iran will force the Taliban leadership to respond to this conflict. Despite the religious differences between Shiites (Iran) and Sunnis (Taliban), the Taliban leaders are likely to be forced to take a pro-Iranian and anti-American position. One of the likely outcomes of this will be the breakdown of negotiations between US representatives and Taliban emissaries in Qatar.
In the event of a conflict, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who lived in Tehran before 2001, will also take an active anti-American stance. The American attack on Iran, therefore, can also disrupt the negotiation process between the official Kabul and the IPA leadership outlined in January 2012.
In the case of the Iranian-American armed conflict, one should also expect an increase in militant activity of those Taliban factions controlled by Pakistan. The aggravation of relations between Kabul and Tehran will make the Afghan government more dependent on Islamabad.
Disruption of the negotiation process in Qatar will also strengthen Pakistani positions in relations between Washington and Islamabad. Americans will be forced to look again for an opportunity to use Pakistani mediation in contacts with the Taliban, which, in turn, will further weaken the position of the government of Hamid Karzai inside the country and in the regional political process.
If US and British forces strike Iran from Afghan territory, Tehran will inevitably raise the issue of the status of Afghanistan in the Iran-US conflict. Kabul will not be able to remain a neutral party in this case - it will be perceived by Iranian public opinion as a member of the anti-Iranian western coalition. In this regard, we should expect Iran to declare war on Afghanistan, completely block the Iranian-Afghan border and invade certain groups of Iranian armed forces into the territory of Western Afghanistan to commit sabotage and intimidation actions.
The closure of the Iranian-Afghan border will lead to a halt in the supply of gasoline, diesel fuel and other fuel and lubricants and food to the Afghan market. This will immediately cause an energy crisis in Afghanistan and a sharp rise in prices for gasoline, diesel fuel, and kerosene. In addition, we should expect a massive deportation from Iran of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees, which could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in Western Afghanistan. It is obvious that all this will provoke the growth of opposition and protest sentiments in Afghanistan, and above all in Kabul.
The crisis in relations with Iran will inevitably provoke an internal political crisis in Kabul, will activate the systemic opposition in the national parliament, in the opposition groups of the former “Northern Alliance”. Attempts to impeach President Hamid Karzai and the emergence of a mass anti-American anti-war movement in Afghanistan, whose members will demand the forced withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghan territory, cannot be ruled out. If the government of the country cannot prevent the growth of this movement, then in Kabul prerequisites may arise for a political coup (the Afghan spring) and the removal of Hamid Karzai from the presidency.
If before the strike on Iran, the United States does not have time to conclude an agreement on strategic partnership with Afghanistan, which provides for the creation of permanent (long-term) US military bases on Afghan territory, then we should expect a breakdown in the negotiation process between Washington and Kabul. In the face of the US attack on Iran, the Afghan parliament will most likely oppose the deployment of US military bases and refuse to ratify the strategic partnership agreement with the US.
It can be assumed that the US authorities will try to intensify the process of concluding a treaty with Kabul in order to carry out the procedure of its ratification in the Volusi Jirga before the Iranian operation. Attempts by American representatives to speed up the signing and ratification of a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan should be viewed as one of the signs of preparation for the US attack on Iran.
In turn, one should expect the Iranian representatives to intensify pressure on official Kabul, including through opposition pro-Iranian political organizations in Afghanistan and the Iranian lobby in the Volusi Jirga in order to prevent the US-Afghan agreement. It is not excluded that Tehran will try to balance the process of preparing the US-Afghan strategic partnership agreement by initiating, through its controlled deputies in the Volusi Jirga, a draft of simultaneous conclusion of the same agreement between Afghanistan and Iran.
AFGHANISTAN TOO HOT
The events in Afghanistan itself do not speak in favor of launching a US strike on Iran. In recent months, emerging difficult situation. At the beginning of 2012, a video of the mockery of the American military over the corpses of killed Afghans, allegedly by the Taliban, was published on the Internet. The publication of the scandalous video caused a storm of indignation in Afghan society, regardless of the political views of certain groups of the population.
A few weeks after the abuse of the bodies of Afghans, another event occurred that caused mass anti-American demonstrations in Afghanistan. A large number of religious literature, including dozens of copies of the holy Koran for Muslims, were burned on the territory of the American base in Bagram. The burning process was stopped when several copies of the half-burned books were taken by Afghan employees out of the base and shown to the clergy.
According to representatives of NATO, the decision to burn religious literature, seized from the prison library, was made by the command of the base after the discovery of extremist materials in them, mainly postscript made by prisoners. Obviously, a completely different reaction of the Afghan society could be expected if the command showed the actions of the Taliban prisoners to the press. However, some Afghan deputies called the incident in Bagram a conspiracy from neighboring countries.
However, it is extremely difficult to blame the neighboring countries for what happened on 11 in March in the district of Panjwai, Kandahar Province. According to the US command, one of the servicemen left the military unit, after which 16 civilians were shot dead in a nearby Afghan village, including eight children, four women and four elderly men. The youngest victim of this bloody night hunt was two years old. The Pentagon is convinced that mentally unstable soldier 38-year-old Robert Bales is guilty of the crime. However, there are still a lot of questions in this matter that make the Pentagon not to believe. It is unlikely that a killer soldier could leave the territory of a military base, which had a triple security guard system, alone at night without the sanction of command. In addition, in southern Afghanistan, including for security reasons, foreign military bases are far from settlements, which almost excludes the possibility of getting to the crime scene on foot in the middle of the night.
After the incident, the Afghan authorities sent a commission to the district to clarify the circumstances of the tragedy. The commission included, in particular, the president’s brother, Qayum Karzai, and several members of the national parliament. It is noteworthy that the delegation on arrival in Panjvay County was attacked by militants, which was perceived by many Afghan experts as creating an obstacle to the work of the commission. However, none of the commission members was injured as a result of the attack.
Upon returning to Kabul, members of the government commission made an unexpected statement. Hamidzai Lalai, a member of the lower house of the Afghan parliament, a spokesman for Kandahar province, said that before the execution, American soldiers raped two women and then opened fire on defenseless civilians. Another representative of the commission, Shakiba Hashimi, said that American soldiers participated in the shooting, from 15 to 20, who were even supported from the air by helicopters.
As we see, the Afghan and American versions diverge, and for the time being it is difficult to say what actually happened that night in the district of Panjway. You can say one thing: the case in Kandahar, like the two previous incidents, is a severe blow to the positions of the US military in Afghanistan. Because of these events, anti-American sentiments in Afghan society have reached their limits. After the incident with the burning of the Koran in the headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the IRA, two American officers were shot dead by Afghan soldiers, who managed to freely leave this well-guarded object in the center of Kabul.
Abuse of the bodies of Afghans, disrespect for their religious feelings and the shooting of civilians will certainly affect the strengthening of the position of the Taliban, whose popularity among the population has only declined in recent years. It is possible to expect not only an increase in the sympathy of the population for the Taliban, who promised people to avenge the "victims of Kandahar", but also the replenishment of the ranks of militants from among the population. Growing sympathy for the Taliban can be expected not only within Afghanistan. Obviously, this will happen in other countries of the Islamic world, which can improve the shaken financial position of the “violent mullahs”. Ultimately, all this will lead to a strengthening of the position of the Taliban in the Qatari process.
The deterioration of the situation of Americans in Afghanistan and the growth of tension in this country may affect the US plans for Iran. The situation developing in Afghanistan today calls into question the possibility of a strike on Iran by the United States this year.
However, this does not apply to other opponents of Iran. And although officials and unofficial officials in the United States and Israel ruled out the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran, nevertheless, in early March 2012, some Western publications published assessments of military experts who modeled a possible air attack by the Israeli air force on Iran.
IN TEHRAN WITH IMPROVEMENT LOOKING AT BAKU AND TEL-AVIV
In one of the articles published by the BBC resource, it is said that Israel recently purchased 125 modern F-15L and F-16L fighter jets, equipped with additional fuel tanks. According to experts, the Israeli government also purchased weapons intended for the destruction of underground facilities. In addition, UAVs entered the army of this country with the possibility of a "long-distance campaign". Although Israel is experienced in delivering a fairly successful air strike on Iraq in 1981, military experts believe that attacking Iran will not be easy.
First, the Iranian objects of interest to Israel are mostly underground. Secondly, important objects of Iran are located at a distance of 1600 – 1800 km from Israeli bases. In reality, this distance may still increase, since it is not known whether Israel can get an air corridor for bombing Iran through the airspace of Turkey or Saudi Arabia. According to military analysts, the best option is the air corridor through Iraq, where airspace is still controlled by the United States. According to experts, even with additional fuel tanks, Israeli aircraft will not be able to make such flights without refueling. According to experts, Israel currently has 8 – 10 tanker aircraft, but they are not enough to carry out an operation of this magnitude. If the Israeli Air Force in the near future will try to get additional tankers, this may indicate the beginning of practical preparation for an attack on Iran.
Experts do not exclude the possibility of a strike on Iranian targets by Israeli air forces from the territory of other countries. The strengthening of the partnership between Israel and Azerbaijan, outlined in recent months, in Tehran is viewed as a preparation for the use of Azerbaijani territory as a possible transit point for air strikes on Iran.
Against this background, diplomatic tensions between Tehran and Baku are heightening. In February 2012, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassador of Azerbaijan to this country to give explanations about the reports about the signing of an agreement on military cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel. The Azerbaijani diplomat acknowledged the signing of an agreement on the purchase of weapons, but explained that his country hopes that the new weapons will help Baku to liberate the "occupied territories". It should be noted that only in February 2012, the Iranian Foreign Ministry twice called the ambassador of Azerbaijan for explanations.
It is obvious that Tehran will try to further neutralize the various elements of the potential infrastructure of the invasion created by Israel and the United States. Since Iran considers the Republic of Azerbaijan to be the most important element of this infrastructure, the Tehran politicians will concentrate considerable efforts primarily on the Azerbaijani direction.
Second-level threats to Iranian national security are US and NATO military installations and groups located in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this regard, as the situation around Iran deteriorates, one should expect preventive diplomatic, political, and coercive actions of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad government against the official Kabul and Baghdad authorities. Given the noticeable influence that Tehran has on some illegal armed groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, one cannot exclude the use of their militants to conduct acts of intimidation and sabotage against the US military and US facilities in Iraqi and Afghan territory. In the event of an armed confrontation between Iran, Israel and the United States, the organization of such sabotage and terrorist acts will become inevitable.