The NYT today fronts a story about how the US is beginning to detect signs of Iranian influence behind the unrest in Afghanistan, with special attention to the riots that arose "spontaneously" after the news of the burning of Koran's by American troops leaked out. Yet according to the Times, US officials are unsure of how much success the Iranians are having:
One United States government official described the Iranian Embassy in Kabul as having “a very active” program of anti-American provocation, but it is not clear whether Iran deliberately chose to limit its efforts after the Koran burning or was unable to carry out operations that would have caused more significant harm.
The issue of Khomeinist machinations in Afghanistan has received far too little notice, especially in contrast with the obsessive attention paid to Pakistan's double-game in the Pashtun regions. One person who has been paying attention is the Vancouver writer Terry Glavin, who is also a columnist for my newspaper. As Terry wrote in February about the post-Koran burning riots, the whole thing followed a familiar script -- the similarly staged riots after the idiot Pastor Jones burned a Koran in Florida.
It was Jones who was supposed to have caused an April 1 protest rally at Mazar-e-Sharif's grand Blue Mosque that got out of hand. A UN compound was stormed, seven foreign staff were slaughtered and five Afghans were dead before the afternoon was over. A dozen more Afghans died in various rampages all the way down to Kandahar. Those excitable and inscrutable Afghans, everybody said.
But it was an event between Pastor Jones' disgusting March 20 sacrilege and the April 1 Mazar massacre that set the drama in train. On March 24, simultaneously incendiary alarms emanated from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office, the Iranian government's propaganda bureau in Tehran and the Khomeinists' Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. In the next scene, Afghanistan's Tehran-allied Olama-e Shiia council marshalled the usual fist-shaking rioters to shout the usual slogans in Kabul. And then, Bob's your uncle.
Terry's point is that there is very little that happens in Afghanistan that is the raw expression of the Afghan "street". The Afghan people are being pulled this way and that by competing forces they can't hope to control. And the countervailing powers that could help them are unwilling to do so. Karzai denounces the Americans while accepting bags of cash from Khomeinist emissaries. President Obama cravenly capitulates on all fronts while maintaining the preposterous fiction that the ANA will take over security for the place in 2014. And "Green on Blue" attacks escalate, while Western intelligence agents speak off the record to the New York Times about Iran's "surprisingly low level of professionalism".