Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Pakistan (8)


Iran: Turning Bombings into an Alliance with Pakistan

Iran: Taking Apart the Jundallah-US Narrative
Latest from Iran (26 October): After the Fair

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED
Buy Us A Cup of Coffee? Help Enduring America Expand Its Coverage and Analysis

IRAN PAKISTAN FLAGSWe noted last week, in the immediate aftermath of the Jundallah bombings that killed more than 40 in southeastern Iran, that the Ahmadinejad Cabinet was moving quickly to use the incident as a catalyst for discussions with Pakistan. Iran Review has translated an analysis from the Etelaat daily newspaper which points to the strategy. Notice that such a strategy, at least in this editorial, pivots on the portrayal of Saudi elements as a common enemy to both Tehran and Islamabad:

We and Pakistan
Abolqasem Qasemzadeh

We, Iranians, and Pakistan are suffering from common maladies which include terrorism and assassination. Pakistan is currently plagued with the Taliban that has frequently endangered public security in that country through assassinations and bomb blasts. The Islamic Republic of Iran too has been a victim to terrorist groups which avail of financial, military and propaganda support of Iran’s adversaries since the victory of 1979 the Islamic Revolution. For years, we and Pakistan have been hit hard by the Wahhabi thought, which seeks to divide Sunnis and Shias. Petrodollars spent by Wahhabi groups in the Islamic Iran have sought to disturb security in border regions through assassinations and acts of terrorism.

At the beginning of the Iraqi imposed war when Saddam was representing world powers that meant to overthrow the Islamic government, the late Saudi King Fahd had been quoted as saying that funding Saddam’s war against Iran and providing him with political, intelligence and military support of Western countries, especially the United States, would help him to win the war. However, Saddam’s ultimate defeat brought shame to all those powers that are currently carrying the mark of shame for supporting Saddam on their brows. In Pakistan, the division between Shias and Sunnis has had no other fruit but massacre of innocent Shiites and Sunnis and destruction of their living environment. Although, the conspirators have constantly taken advantage of ignorance of some societies, today, both Shias and Sunnis in Iran and Pakistan have understood that Wahhabi thought is closely related to Zionist plots and the interests of foreign colonialist powers.

Baluchestan is a common name for border provinces in Iran and Pakistan, both of which have a province under the same name. Both countries are trying to develop their Baluchestan provinces and help Baluch people by implementing development projects. The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been constantly trying to make the common border secure and has never let terrorist groups to consider Iranian Baluchestan a safe refuge after committing acts of terror. We and Pakistanis are well aware of the ominous intelligence and military conspiracies of the UK and the United States in that region and know that terrorism in the region will hit both the people of Iran and Pakistan.

Iran: Taking Apart the Jundallah-US Narrative

LATEST Iran Bombings: Former Pakistan Intelligence Chief Blames US
Iran Discussion: The Bombings, Jundallah, and the US
The Latest from Iran (21 October): Room for a Challenge?

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED
Buy Us A Cup of Coffee? Help Enduring America Expand Its Coverage and Analysis

IRAN BOMBINGUPDATE 1945 GMT: Take this for what it's worth from former CIA operative Robert Baer: "I've been told that the Bush Administration at one point considered Jundallah as a piece in a covert-action campaign against Iran, but the idea was quickly dropped because Jundallah was judged uncontrollable and too close to al-Qaeda. There was no way to be certain that Jundallah would not throw the bombs we paid for back at us."
We followed up Sunday's bombing in southeastern Iran with a discussion between EA's Mr Smith and Chris Emery on the likely attackers, the Baluch insurgent group Jundallah. Meanwhile, the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani were claiming that Jundallah was supported by foreign intelligence services, including US operatives.

EA correspondent Josh Mull dissects the Jundallah-US narrative to put some questions not about the claim but about the significance of the bombing. --- WSL

My immediate question is why the blaming of Jundallah head Abdolmalek Rigi automatically makes Tehran's anti-Western rhetoric more credible. Who else could they have named that would NOT lend credibility to their anti-Western rhetoric? The Kurdish PKK? The Baluchistan Liberation Army? The Mujahedin-e-Khalq? The US is said to have supported all of them against the Tehran regime at one point or another, so what makes Jundallah an extra-credible outlet for US activities?

Let's presume Tehran is telling the truth and that that was a deliberate covert action by the United States using Jundallah assets in Islamabad:

1. What is the specific motivation of the United States to use this specific tactic, with these specific assets, against this specific target, at this specific time?

2. This would be a grievous act of aggression against a country with which the US claims to be in diplomatic discussions. It is an attack massacring dozens more than the globally-condemned Taliban attacks against Indian personnel in Afghanistan. How does this reconcile with the US strategy of engagement on the nuclear issue?

3. What are China and Russia's motivations to continue along the US path, knowing that the US will commit these atrocities without regard to diplomatic consequences?

4. The Obama administration has previously claimed to have ceased aggressive covert actions against the Iranian regime, so is this an outright lie? What would be the motivation and benefits of covert operations?

5. What is the cost-benefit of outrageous suicide tactics against a worthless and irrelevant target? If you're going to use a suicide bomber, why not hit a nuclear facility, or something else important to US national security interests?

6. Why would Pakistan allow Jundallah assets to operate in Islamabad, given their well-known ties to the Baluch insurgency, who would likely jump at the chance to strike this deep in Pakistani territory?

7. Why would the US run such an incredibly sensitive operation out of one of their most watched Embassies on the planet? India, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia: all are highly operationally capable in Islamabad, and any aggressive covert actions which would compromise their own national security interests vis-a-vis the US and Iran would raise a lot of red flags and alarms.

8. Why not use closer, more efficient assets, such as an enormous special forces apparatus in Afghanistan, or similar forces in Iraq, or even sea-borne assets from the Persian Gulf? We're talking communications here, so why is a crowded and compromised embassy better than an invisible submarine or clandestine outpost?

9. If Iran really could decrypt US covert satellite communications, why not such evidence to the United Nations and/or the International Criminal Court? It constitutes a smoking gun.

If any of those questions could be answered, we might be on to something in blaming the US for a suicide bombing against an Iranian army base. Failing that, perhaps a simpler explanation might hold up. It appears that Jundallah has pulled off a spectacular and vicious attack against the institution most involved in the systematic oppression of Sunni and Baloch Iranian citizens.

We can presume that Jundallah perceives, far more acutely than we do, weakness in the regime. It may seek to exacerbate that weakness by antagonizing the military, the institution which oppresses them but would also be used to maintain order against a restive reformist movement as well. It can be reasoned that Jundallah calculates a reformist regime would be slightly more open to their demands than a fanatical, military-supported regime.

Understanding "Mr Obama's Wars": Five Essential Analyses on Afghanistan and Pakistan

Afghanistan: Here is What Will Happen (in 4 Sentences)
Afghanistan: The Real Importance of The“Non-Story” of 13,000 Support Troops

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED
Buy Us A Cup of Coffee? Help Enduring America Expand Its Coverage and Analysis

AFGHANISTAN PAKISTAN FLAGSAmidst the latest uncertainties over Afghanistan's Presidential election and the proposed US military escalation, amidst Pakistan's latest highly-proclaimed offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan, the New Americanist makes a timely intervention with five essays considering and critiquing the local, regional, and international significances of the "Af-Pak" issue.

Included are Scott Lucas on the confusions of US strategy, Andrew Johnston on the tensions of "global disorder" for both the US and Canada, Artemy Kalinovsky on the lessons of the Soviet experience, Giles Scott-Smith on the collapse of national sovereignty and the rule of law, and a response to those ideas by Marilyn Young.

Read the collection "Obama and the Af-Pak Question"....

The Latest from Iran (19 October): Beyond Bombings, The Pressure on the Government

NEW Iran Snap Analysis: Mousavi’s Webcast Takes “National Unity” Beyond Politics
NEW Iran Discussion: The Bombings, Jundallah, and the US
NEW Video: Mousavi’s First Post-Election Webcast (18 October)
NEW Video: Larijani on The Bombings, Jundallah & The US (18 October)
Iran Newsflash: National Unity Plan Submitted to Supreme Leader

Iran: The Great Supreme Leader Health Mystery
Video: Blame on Sunni Group Jundallah, US For Bombing
The Latest from Iran (18 October): Today’s Bombings

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED
Buy Us A Cup of Coffee? Help Enduring America Expand Its Coverage and Analysis8

IRAN 3 NOV DEMOS1910 GMT: In case you're wondering why, after the initial media distractions (0825 and 1355 GMT), there were no updates on today's talks between Iran and the "5+1" powers over uranium enrichment....

Well, there was precious little to report, as all delegations stayed tight-lipped. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammad El Baradei, offered some general encouragement, praising "a good meeting....We are off to a good start," but saying only that talks would resume Tuesday morning.

This was always the most likely outcome, since details of uranium enrichment and the logistics of transport and processing can be surprisingly complex. However, it appears that some of the international media were expecting the drama of either an agreement or a breakdown within hours, if not minutes. That foiled expectation produced the day's alternative high point, the tragi-comedy of CNN's Matthew Chance sinking from excitement into chilly whimpering:

1. just did first live shot....talks not even started yet, but lot of anticipation
2. ok talks finally begun
3. gonna do live right now
4. freezing out here...
5. jeez..all day silence... now the talks have broken up....

1840 GMT: Clerical Hope. Grand Ayatollah Sane'i, meeting members of the Qom branch of the “Green Path of Hope”, has said different views should not lead to division and should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation. He asked, however, how one can speak to a Government that calls people agents of traitors and foreigners and that insults the families of martyred heroes. (English summary on Mousavi Facebook site)

1815 GMT: Khamenei Speaks (or At Least His Official Site Does). Back from an academic break to find the official statement from the Supreme Leader on the Sunday bombings: "The Islamic system shall not withhold any energy to defend the region and the people" against the terrorists and enemies "backed by arrogant governments".

1555 GMT: Supreme Leader Speaks? Reuters reports, from Press TV, that Ayatollah Khamenei has said that Iran will "punish" those responsible for Sunday's bombings and that enemies "can't harm the unity" amongst Iranians. It is unclear, however, whether the Supreme Leader's statement was in a message on his website or in a public appearance.

1545 GMT: Political Terms. We have been referring to Jundallah in the last 48 hours as a "Sunni group", but my impression is that a more accurate description would be "Baluch insurgent group", reflecting the regional emphasis of its objectives. Any comments most welcome.

1505 GMT: We have moved our snap analysis of Mir Hossein Mousavi's webcast on "National Unity" to a separate entry.

1435 GMT: Here They (the Revolutionary Guard and the "Western" Media) Go Again. A predictable if ridiculous escalation in the Iran v. US narrative. The commander of the Revolutionary Guard, General Jafari, makes his comments to Iranian journalists denouncing the US, Israel, and Pakistan in Sunday's bombings by Jundallah and promises to "retaliate" (see 0850 GMT). Reuters turns Jafari not only into the Ahmadinejad Government but all of Iran, as in its headline, "Iran Threatens Britain and US After Guard Bombing".  The Guardian gives a token nod to Islamabad but does no other reporting beyond Reuters' declaration with its  "Iran blames Pakistan and west for deadly suicide bombing: Iran vows revenge".

None of the "Western" journalists, to our knowledge, take any notice of last night's Cabinet meeting, which distanced itself from criticism of the US. Indeed, no one seems to bother to ask, "If Iran really blames the US for this act, why is it negotiating with Washington at the Vienna talks today?"

1355 GMT: A Non-Threat. Let's hope the Western press don't swallow this (frankly ridiculous) media bait on today's enrichment talks. Press TV is featuring the declaration, from "a source close to the meetings", "Iran Rejects 'Direct Talks' with France in Vienna".

Since Iran is not speaking directly to France but to the "5+1" powers, this is the reddest of red herrings having no significance whatsoever.

1345 GMT: Montazeri E-Mails the BBC. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri has responded to a series of questions from the BBC on the Iranian Government and the Islamic Regime. After a rather fatuous start, "What is your view of claims that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in contact with the Hidden Imam and that his government is working for the return of the Mahdi?", the interview produces Montazeri's declaration, "Due to the short-sightedness, ineptitude and lack of wisdom, as well as arrogance and neglect of the demands of the majority of the people by a small inefficient minority, many of the initial ideals of the revolution have not been fulfilled." And he repeats his warning to the Supreme Leader:
As, in my view, the government will not achieve legitimacy without the support of the people, and as the necessary and obligatory condition for the legitimacy of the ruler is his popularity and the people's satisfaction with him; therefore, the present dissatisfaction - which is unfortunately increasing - will have a direct bearing on the legitimacy of the ruling establishment, unless the wiser figures in the nation can think of a solution by changing the current policies, and can remove the causes of the dissatisfaction of the majority of the people, and deal with the people with kindness, mercy, compassion and humility.

1315 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have each issued statements condemning Sunday's bombings.

1230 GMT: Another Post-Election Prison Sentence. Hedayat Aghaei, a senior member of the Kargozaran Party, has been sentenced to five years in prison for "disrupting the public order by provoking people to riot, propagating against the Islamic republic...and acting against national security”.

The twist in the tale is that Kargozaran has been seen more as a party linked to Hashemi Rafsanjani, raising the question of how much this is a symbolic move against the former President.

1045 GMT: Where is Khamenei? At the risk of re-igniting rumours and speculation, a question: is it unusual for no statement or appearance from the Supreme Leader given the death toll from yesterday's bombings in Sistan-Baluchestan?

1040 GMT: Hammihan News reports that journalist Masoud Bastani, detained in early July, has been sentenced to six years in prison.

0850 GMT: The Government's Disarray Continues. President Ahmadinejad may want to get a hold of his Revolutionary Guards commander, General Mohammad Ali Jafari. Jafari has upset the Cabinet's attempts to damp down talk of US-first responsibility for the Sunday bombings, telling journalists that Washington and Israel are behind the attack and claiming links of Jundallah head Abdolmalek Rigi with US and Pakistani intelligence services.

0840 GMT: The Pakistani Government has denied any link to Sunday's bombing in southeastern Iran. "Pakistan is not involved in terrorist activities ... we are striving to eradicate this menace," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abdul Basit told the Daily Times newspaper .

Pakistani President Asif Zardari has called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to offer his condolences and reaffirm Pakistan’s commitment to fighting extremists.

0825 GMT: As the technical discussions between Iran and the "5+1" powers (US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) open in Vienna, Tehran is throwing up a lot of chaff to divert the media. Following yesterday's assertion that Iran was not looking for third-party enrichment but would seek to buy high-enriched uranium from the US and other countries, a spokesman for Iran's nuclear energy authority declared this morning, "If the talks do not bring about Iran's desired result ... we will start to further enrich uranium ourselves."

Don't be distracted. The main proposal on the table is still the US-developed plan, after Iranian signals in June, for 80 percent of Iran's low-enriched uranium to be processed to 19.75 percent in Russia. (Here's our reminder of the details of the plan and negotiations.) That is the message between the lines of this report from Press TV, under the cover of "local enrichment", "The United States is considering ways to officially announce that it has agreed to Iran's demand to locally enrich uranium, sources say. The US has held private meetings with its European allies in order to inform them about the decision."

0815 GMT: EA's Mr  Smith and Chris Emery met up last night for a chat about the Sunday bombing, Jundallah, and the allegations of US involvement. The outcome is in a separate entry.

0725 GMT: The effects of yesterday's bombings in southeastern Iran still resonate, with people inside and outside the Government trying to assess the political as well as "security" effects. The immediate impression is that the regime is in a bit of disarray, both from the shock of losing six senior Revolutionary Guard commanders and from the symbolic significance of a suicide attack inside Iran.

The immediate reaction of the Revolutionary Guard and, more interestingly, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani (see separate video) was to blame "foreign elements" such as the US Government for the attacks, but this only caused further political complications. With an Iranian delegation meeting American counterparts and representative of the other "5+1" countries today for technical talks on uranium enrichment, the aggressive line risked a breakdown of engagement and, thus, the threat of harsher economic sanctions on Iran.

So the Ahmadinejad Cabinet, reviewing the situation last night, re-focused Tehran's strategy. blaming Pakistan and pressuring it to co-operate in the pursuit of Jundallah, the insurgent group blamed for the bombings. Given the complexity of Pakistani politics and its own tangled internal situation, that pressure is unlikely to lead to a resolution in the near-future.

But this is the only start of the bombings' political effects.

No doubt the Government will gather itself to put the attacks within the context of post-election "disturbances" by the opposition, but this is not the easiest of propositions. Jundullah is a political light-year away from the nature and content of the Green movement, and of course no one in the opposition is going to offer any public sympathy for violence against Iranian officials or the military, even the Revolutionary Guard.

So, while Ahmadinejad and advisors try to re-align the security situation, internal politics, and their international manoeuvres, there is a space for others to take advantage. And, indeed, yesterday's "other" events may prove more significant than the Baluchestan bombing. The revelation that the National Unity Plan has now gone to the Supreme Leader for consideration (see separate entry) establishes that, despite all the pressure from Ahmadinejad supporters to contain and even sabotage the Plan, a cross-section of groups --- and, yes, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani --- have persisted. We are still in the dark about the details of the Plan, but it has long been clear that its proposals for system reform, first and foremost in the short-term, will put limits and possibly pressure on Ahmadinejad.

So it is far more than notable that Mir Hossein Mousavi made his own intervention yesterday, for the first time using an Internet interview (see separate video) to set out his political vision and call on the Iranian people to persist in their efforts for change. Most importantly for now, he opened by aligning himself with the National Unity Plan while, at the same time, encouraging the Green movement to use "virtual media" to ensure its voice was heard.

Iran Discussion: The Bombings, Jundallah, and the US

Latest Iran Video: Larijani on The Bombings, Jundallah & The US (18 October)
Video: Blame on Sunni Group Jundallah, US For Bombing
The Latest from Iran (18 October): Today’s Bombings

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED
Buy Us A Cup of Coffee? Help Enduring America Expand Its Coverage and Analysis

IRAN BOMBINGOne of the immediate headline issues in yesterday's bombings in Iran, which killed at least 42 people including six senior Revolutionary Guard commanders, was US involvement. For years, the Iranian Government has asserted American support of the Sunni-Baluch group Jundallah, who were the likely attackers. The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps made the allegation within hours of the bombings, and the claim was repeated by Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani. Interestingly, President Ahmadinejad and his Cabinet later distanced themselves from the US-first thesis, shifting to Pakistan, probably to maintain the engagement process with Washington.

Before the latest news from the Iranian Cabinet, EA's Mr Smith and Chris Emery went over the evidence of American links to Jundullah:

SMITH: We would normally dismiss the Iranian claims of foreign interference as the usual anti-West yarn from Tehran, but the claims against [Jundallah leader Abdolmalek] Rigi warrant extra attention. He is an extremely shadowy figure who appears to be well-protected, to the extent that his own brother has been caught and sentenced to death by the Iranian authorities but he himself is still at large. Also, he appeared several times on Voice of America Persian, identified as leader of the "Popular Resistance Movement of Iran", which is of course something VOA made up - it's not quite the Persian translation of Jundullah.

Exactly how the VOA got hold of him for a live interview, via satellite phone, is quite unexplained, as is the prominence and deference accorded to him. This interview caused a serious backlash in the Iranian blogosphere and discredited VOA Persian heavily.

EMERY: I think that the claims are much harder to dismiss when [investigative journalist] Seymour Hersh and [former CIA operative] Robert Baer have stated that Jundullah receives US support. I think it was very much a tit-for-tat policy after alleged Iranian support for Iraqi Shia groups in attacks on US troops. It has been reported that Obama ended these operations.

Iranians will still wonder why Jundullah is not on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organisations.

Obama cannot privately say to the Iranians that he stopped covert support, as it obviously an admittance of past US policy, but he can now offer cooperation via Pakistan and Afghanistan. In fact, it will be interested to see how Iran approaches a now very distracted Pakistan; thus far, cooperation has been patchy. [EDITOR'S NOTE: In light of the subsequent Iranian Cabinet pressure on Pakistan, I find this a telling remark.]

SMITH: I am not really sure that that Obama Administration has ever supported Jundullah --- it looks to me more like a smelly leftover from the Bush administration's penchant for "Iran destabilisation" via the infamous $75 million allocated for civil society and incitement of ethnic groups. As always, however, the Americans are masters at starting a mess and leaving it there to boil.

And they appear to have created a real monster this time, as this is a well-fed, relatively efficient group that appears to be running the show in Sistan-Baluchestan and being able to strike at will. It is more an embarassment that anything else for the current US Government, as I doubt they now have the capacity to rein them in.

The VOA link I highlighted was really preposterous, as it harks back to the heydays of Bush's desire to come up with anything that was anti-Islamic Republic of Iran and appeared to operate inside the country.

EMERY: As well as the $75 million announced in 2006, which I'm not sure would have ended up in Jundullah's hands, Hersh alleges a seperate request made to Congress in late 2007. Apparently that was for up to $200 million.

SMITH: Perhaps the $75-200 million would not end up directly in the hands of Jundullah, but all these ethnic militant groups have fronts that serve as cultural associations. So in one way or another these groups are probably recipients of US and perhaps British money. This issue should be clarified once and for all by the Obama administration, and I hope a lid is put on this. It is simply an embarassment for anyone involved, including the Saudis (who incidentally are merrily allowing channels such as Al-Arabiya to air exclusives with Abdolmalek Rigi).