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Preparing the invasion of Iran: the US empire regroups its proxies in Afghanistan

globinfo freexchange

On the occasion of the recent attack against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, we estimated that the US imperialists will follow a certain scenario to achieve primary goal, which is to fully control the Strait of Hormuz. The goal could be achieved through a strategically and geographically restricted, fast-track invasion of Iran.

A certain part of the operation could include some US forces and proxies inside Afghanistan.

As we wrote, already since 2017 the US announced that it will increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan, and one reason probably has to do with Iran. A significant number of US troops on the Iranian eastern border would be very useful. It will be used to keep the Iranian forces busy and gradually weaken the Iranian operational capabilities in an extended attrition war. This will permit the US to gradually secure and establish their presence in the Strait of Hormuz.

This attrition war could be held - and probably would be more effective - through proxy forces, or mercenaries of private armies, or a combination of them in the front line together with the US forces in the background.

It seems that there are certain moves by the US that justify the probability of this scenario. As PressTV reported: [important parts highlighted]

The Taliban militant group said in a statement on Friday that US soldiers “saved” Daesh members as well as their local leaders by helicopters from a siege they had been trapped in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar. “The US troops saved them from the siege by helicopters,” the statement said, adding that the Taliban had been launching an anti-Daesh operation for one week in Kunar and had surrounded the terrorist outfit’s important individuals.

A large number of Daesh terrorists were rescued by choppers while fleeing a battlefield with Taliban last year in the northern province of Jawzjan.

The Economic Times estimated in a recent report that around 10,000 members of the Takfiri terrorist group were present in Afghanistan and the number was growing on Washington’s watch.

In recent years, Daesh has established a foothold in eastern and northern Afghanistan. The terrorist group has mostly been populating Nangarhar, from where it has carried out high-profile brutal attacks at major population centers across the country.

Last February, three months after the group's defeat was announced in Iraq and Syria, the Associated Press reported that the US military was pulling its forces from a base in Iraq and shifting them to Afghanistan.

The report flew in the face of US President Donald Trump's campaign promises to end Washington's Afghanistan intervention.


As geopolitical analyst, Eric Draitser, wrote in 2015, "Iran understands that ISIS is, in effect, an arm of the power projection of its regional rivals Turkey and Saudi Arabia, both of whom have been primary instigators of the war in Syria and the attempt to break the alliance of Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah. Therefore, from the Iranian perspective, the Taliban’s war against ISIS in Afghanistan is essentially a new theater in the larger war against ISIS and its backers."

Yet today, the relations between Turkey and US are in their worst position. The US empire sees another strategically important ally making moves of independence. Therefore, the US imperialists are facing another uncertain situation in the already unstable broader region on western Iranian borders. Reinforcing their troops and proxies in Afghanistan is a good sign that they want to use them against Iran as part of an invasion plan.

Although the fully Westernized Afghan leadership is expected to permit US operations against Iran, the US think-tank network already sends the appropriate messages-warnings to Kabul in order to prevent further approach with Tehran. An example can be found in a recent article on The Diplomat: [most important parts highlighted red]

In recent years, the Afghan transit trade has shifted to Iran’s port city of Bandar e Abbas as an alternative transit route. Estimates show that the share of Afghanistan’s transit trade conducted via Pakistan, which stood at 60 percent in 2008-09, has dropped to less than 30 percent in 2016 while Afghan trade routed through Iran grew from roughly 20 percent to 40 percent in the same time frame. In an unprecedented move, Afghanistan is even working to establish its own shipping line to carry goods via Iran. While Afghanistan received waivers to buy oil from Iran amid the fresh sanctions imposed by the United States, its underlying transit trade endeavors stand to be be hurt severely as no exemptions can help should things get worse.

Future development plans risk being detailed as well. Two competing ports, Gwadar in Pakistan developed by China and Chabahar jointly developed by India and Iran, are located at close proximity to the Strait of Hormuz. While Chabahar serves as a gateway for India to reach Afghanistan and Central Asia, it will also provide a transit route and exclusive transit and trade benefits to Afghanistan as a partner once fully operational. Progress on the port, however, has been severely affected by the escalated U.S.-Iran tension since the project’s onset. In the meantime, continued economic downfall as a result of sanctions has constrained Iran’s capacity to contribute toward the development of port as planned. Therefore, any possible face-off would further dent the progress on Chabahar.

Afghanistan needs to learn an important lesson from the underlying situation. The shift in transit trade towards Iran’s Bandar e Abbas was the result of poor facilitation, overbearing security measures, an inefficient risk management system, and extortionate fees by Pakistani authorities. This trend further increased after relations between Iran and the United States improved in 2015. In the meantime, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inherited regional transport corridor projects, namely Chabahar and Lapis Lazuli. While the complete operationalization of both projects has a long way to go, the Afghan president is presenting the shift in trade as a major achievement, implying that Afghanistan is no longer dependent on Pakistan for transit as part of his populist agenda.

But the recent uptick in tensions shows there are also dangers to being overly reliant on Iran for Afghanistan’s transit trade. Instead, it’s time to try again to tackle the issues between Kabul and Islamabad. The Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) was signed in 2010 and meant to be revised in five years if needed and agreed by both parties. Key clauses in APTTA were unfair and harsh, making transit trade for Afghanistan challenging. It is important to renegotiate APTTA and ensure a smooth trade and transit route for Afghanistan to curtail any possible shocks to transit trade via Iran.

This is only a small sample of the Iran-case complexity, showing that the path towards the invasion of Iran will not be a piece of cake.

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