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Letters from Tokyo
Iran Is a Stabilizing Power in Afghanistan and Iraq
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent
The President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a critic of the George W. Bush Administration and supports strengthened relations with Russia, Venezuela, Syria, and the Persian Gulf states. He has said Iran's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and has refused to end enrichment despite United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The government of Iran is a regional power which must be respected and greater transparency is needed when writing about this nation. After all, the government of Iran is often a scapegoat for failed American policies but in reality the leaders of Tehran have been very compliant when it comes to Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. This is also clearly visible because it is radical Sunni Islam or Sunni nationalism, which is challenging America and other nations who have sent their armed forces to the region. Therefore, why is Iran being rebuked all the time and sidelined?

Before focusing on Iran and the positive policies which have been implemented by Tehran, I will just mention other factors which do do not apply to this article. Firstly, this article is firmly based on the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, therefore, other issues like Lebanon, the nuclear issue, and the internal political situation in Iran, is of secondary importance because America and allied nations are bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. Therefore, the geopolitical reality of the "real world" needs to be told and if you fully concentrate on current events in these nations then you get a different picture.

However, the stabilizing factor of Iran is either rebuked by America or just ignored when major statements are being made by senior people in the American administration. For example Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, stated "Iran constitutes the single most important single-country strategic challenge to the United States and to the kind of Middle East we want to see." However, this is the same America which props up Saudi Arabia and if we are to talk about democracy, then even democracy Iranian style is a million miles more democratic than Saudi Arabia. In fact, Iran is one of the most diverse nations in the region and women also have much more greater freedom in Iran than Saudi Arabia. Therefore, it is hard to understand what America means, unless it means they don't like independent nations who happen to desire to follow their own model?

Also, when it comes to international terrorism then the finger must firmly be pointed at radical Sunni Islam. After all, Islamic terrorist attacks in America, Bali in Indonesia, Kenya, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and other nations, were carried out by radical Sunni Islamists. More important to the American people, not the government, is that the vast majority of people who were involved in September 11 came from Saudi Arabia. However, the main negatives that come from Saudi Arabia are always glossed over and of course another $20 billion dollar military contract was signed between both nations in order to boost the armed forces of Saudi Arabia.

Yet from an American military perspective, then surely the government of America must be confused or in denial or the Bush administration simply does not care? After all, the American military body count in Afghanistan and Iraq is collectively very high and the main culprits again are the so-called friends of America. This applies to the biggest source of foreign fighters in Iraq being Saudi nationals. While in Afghanistan many specialists state that rogue elements within the security services of Pakistan are supporting the Taliban. For example Steve Coll, president of the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, stated "some current and former Pakistani military and intelligence officers sympathize with the Islamist insurgents with whom they are notionally at war."

Many American officials outside of the inner-circle of the Bush administration have made similar allegations. The leader of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, also claims that Pakistan is not doing enough to stem the tide of the Afghan insurgency which uses the land of Pakistan to grow and develop. However, Pakistan refutes this and it must be remembered that around 1,000 soldiers from the army of Pakistan have been killed fighting the Islamists or Pathan Islamic nationalists who dream of a united nation. Also, the mixture of tribalism, radical Sunni Islam, and Pathan nationalism, fused with grinding poverty and a feeling of betrayal, is not easy to contain and given this reality it is not easy for Pakistan.

However, reasons given by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are not good enough for many political leaders in America and the same applies to the armed forces of America. Because whatever reasons are being given the answer remains the same. This applies to the huge American body count and the fact that funding, breathing space, manpower, and ideology, is being driven via Saudi Arabia and Pakistan respectively. Again this does not mean that both governments are sponsoring the chaos directly, but whatever the real facts are, you can state that both nations are not abiding by their responsibilities.

Yet the nation of Iran is still deemed the great threat but the facts do not meet the assumptions of President Bush and Rice. After all, the shia minority in Afghanistan is not at war against America or NATO forces. Also, in Iraq it is the Shia dominated government which is working together with America and the main problem in Iraq stems from Sunni nationalism or Sunni radical Islam. Of course some Shia factions in Iraq are against American forces but this problem is secondary because the vast majority of American deaths in both nations is because of fighting Sunni Muslims.

Therefore, the government of Iran desires to see stability in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Because of this fact, the security forces of Iran have not got involved to any major degree in either nation despite having the power to do so if they desired. It must also be remembered that when America was covertly supporting the Taliban prior to September 11, 2001, the government of Iran was supporting the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. So when America invaded Afghanistan the government of Iran helped America via the Northern Alliance. Therefore, why is America focused on Iran when the real problems are to be found in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?


Lee Jay Walker Dip BA MA
http://journals.aol.com/leejaywalker/uk/



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Lee Jay Walker serves as Tokyo Correspondent of The Seoul Times. He specializes in int'l relations and geopolitics. He is also involved in analyst work and research on business. After finishing BA degree in East European Studies at the University of London, He earned MA degree in Asia Pacific Studies in Nottingham Trent University. He also studied business at London Institute.

 

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