Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the three major insurgent leaders in Afghanistan, a close ally of Iran
The admission by the Taliban on July 30 that its leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, had died was widely seen as good news for the Islamic State (ISIS) against its jihadist competitors. But while ISIS’s growing power in Afghanistan over the last year has garnered significant attention, the rise of Iran’s influence in the country has been less noted. Worse, in the light of the nuclear agreement with the U.S., Iran’s expanded influence is held by some observers to be a stability-promoting development. This is a dangerous fantasy that has already been falsified in the Fertile Crescent, where the synergetic growth of Iran and ISIS promotes chaos and radicalism—to the advantage of both and the disadvantage of the forces of moderation and order. Continue reading →
In watching the Syrian conflict, one of the most extraordinary tendencies of the reporting is the way “foreign fighter” and “jihadist” have become synonymous with the Sunni militants who have descended on that tormented country. This is one among many illusions that will hopefully be ended by Phillip Smyth’s monograph, “The Shiite Jihad in Syria and its Regional Effects“. You should read the whole thing but below are the salient points I took away. Continue reading →
Since President Obama’s 2009 announcement of a ‘surge’ in Afghanistan that simultaneously announced the date of withdrawal, the western focus in Afghanistan has shifted to the exits.
The steady drizzle of bad news since then has reinforced this sense that it’s over, we’ve had enough and we’re leaving.
American and British troops quit Helmand in late October, basically ceding it to Taliban control. On Tuesday John Sopko, the head of the American auditor mechanism (SIGAR) said that efforts to promote economic growth in Afghanistan have ‘accomplished nothing.’ Continue reading →
Ben Anderson did his filming between 2007 and the present in Afghanistan. He presents a picture of a country in free-fall, of a West in denial, and of a war that the Allies have given up on. Continue reading →