News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 27, 2010.
- Foreign Policy: Harvard International Relations Professor Stephen Walt blogs the revelations that Hamid Karzai receives money from Iran should come as no surprise. Far from being a “dastardly Iranian plot to control Afghanistan,” Walt points out “given that the two states share a lengthy border, Iran has a considerable interest in Afghanistan’s future course. In fact, it would be surprising if they weren’t trying to buy a little influence in Kabul.” While some pundits have expressed concern about growing Iranian influence in Afghanistan, Walt responds that they should be glad that Iran is sending money to Karzai instead of using it to buy weapons for Hezbollah.
- Wall Street Journal: John Hopkins professor Fouad Ajami opines that Karzai, in accepting money from Iran, is “taking the coin of our enemies and scoffing at our purposes.” Ajami attributes the willingness of Karzai to take the money and the Iranian decision to offer it as: “This is the East, and basksheesh is the way of the world.” As for the Iranians, they “…are of the neighborhood, they know the ways of the bazaar.” Ajami, who is quick to defend the Iraq war, says that while Iraq had the possibility of transforming Iraq into a democracy in the midst of “a despotic Arab world” whereas Afghanistan is a “broken country” and a “land of banditry” whose president has no interest in partnering with the United States.
- Haaretz: Zvi Bar’el writes that Saudi Arabia sees the recent U.S.-Saudi arms deal as an attempt to deter Israel, not Iran. He argues that the two countries are busily negotiating over key issues regarding their spheres of influence in Iraq and Lebanon. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia share an interest in stopping the special international tribunal investigating Rafik Hariri’s assassination. Stopping the investigation, says Bar’el, would prevent the collapse of the Lebanese government, a scenario which neither country wants. In Iraq, Iran may needs Saudi Arabia’s assistance to convince Ayad Allawi, who has received Saudi support, to join a coalition with Nouri al-Maliki, who has received the support of Muqtada al-Sadr. He concludes, “Meanwhile, it seems the Americans are aiming too high. The real game is in the hands of local forces that are sketching the strategic map, which will be presented to Washington as a fait accompli.”
- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Jamie Kirchick writes that the latest WikiLeaks release of Iraq war documents show, beyond a doubt, that Iran “clearly sees itself as engaged in a war against the United States and those attempting to forge and independent and democratic Iraq.” Kirchick opines that the WikiLeaks release provides evidence of an Iranian “training camp for terrorists” who attack U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He concludes that the WikiLeaks release has served to, “… reveal the true nature of Al-Qaeda and the Iranian regime, and to open a window into what the region will look like should their efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq prove successful.”