Arnon Grunberg



On borderline – Zvi Bar’el in Haaretz:

‘A new front developing in the east of Iran is threatening its security. At the end of the month the United States is expected to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is already falling into the Taliban’s hands.’


‘Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing from their homes, thousands are crossing the border to Iran daily and joining the 2 million Afghan refugees who settled there after the previous wars. Most of these refugees come from the Shi’ite provinces. Some were drafted into Iranian militias operating in Syria, others have enlisted to fight in Libya.
For Iran, which provides them with education and health services, this is a huge economic burden. But the security risk is greater. The Taliban rule in Afghanistan will turn it into Iran’s enemy.
Iran, which stuck to the principle of ousting all the foreign powers, that is, the Americans, from the Middle East, understands that the international forces that helped Afghanistan, albeit partially, to block the Taliban’s approach, were good for it. Once they pull out, Iran will have to forge a new defense strategy that could require it to sleep with the enemy, and not for the first time. Despite the historic rift between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites, Iran not only supported the Sunni Afghan government, it even opened communication channels with the Taliban forces to prevent attacks in its territory by Sunni Islamic State forces, who wanted to use the border area between the states as a base for actions against Iran.
One of the options Iran faces now is to expand the cooperation with the Taliban, who have been using Iran for years as a route to export drugs to the West, providing the main income source for their activities.’


‘Like every rational state, Iran’s ideology bends in the face of necessity. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called it “heroic flexibility,” which Iran displayed several times in recent years.
This week, when President Ebrahim Raisi presented his cabinet choices to the parliament, there was at least one among them who was especially pleased with the chance to settle the score with the outgoing government of Hassan Rohani.’


‘Who would have believed that the state that boycotted Egypt after it signed the Camp David Accords and harshly denounced Morsi’s ouster would welcome the new Egyptian president, who strengthened his ties with Israel? This is but one example of the gap that sometimes appears between the profile built by intelligence services about senior Iranians and their policy, which depends on political, economic and military interests, regardless of how they expressed themselves in public. Similar caution is required when it comes to Raisi, whose profile Israel presented to CIA chief William Burns in his visit here this week.
According to Israel News 12, the “Raisi file” presented by Mossad head David Barnea says that “[t]he new Iranian president is a brutal man who is responsible for the death of thousands of people in Iran, some of them with his own hands. On the basis of the same testimonies Raisi derived pleasure from the murder acts. The Mossad also says he has borderline personality disorder ... and Israel fears it will be impossible to reach an agreement with the problematic president. And even if an agreement is signed, he won’t necessarily comply with it.” Israel has good relations with a number of leaders whose personality is seen as borderline, but that’s not the main point.’


‘Iran’s religious, national ideology has of course a supreme status and every move is done in its name. But these principles are not carved in stone. When necessary, they are given to interpretation that corresponds to immediate interests and needs, not only in nuclear matters. For example, three days ago Mohammad Reza Zafarghandi, the president of Iran’s Medical Council, slammed Khamenei’s order not to import coronavirus vaccines from the West in general and from the United States in particular. “Will those who restricted the vaccines’ import be held accountable today?” he tweeted. He didn’t mention Khamenei’s name, but everyone knows who he was referring to.
A day later Khamenei said on television that everything must be done to increase the number of vaccines, whether by domestic production or by importing them “in any way possible.” It seemed that the ban on importing from the West evaporated without an explicit statement.
Has the coronavirus and its tens of thousands of fatalities – some say more than a quarter of a million people – bent the principle? If so, why is there a growing assumption that the economic crisis, the drought, the dwindling income, the rial’s devaluation, the dozens of demonstrations and strikes will no longer provide the pretext to renew the nuclear talks soon, so that the sanctions are lifted? After all, it was the same sanctions that led Iran to the negotiation table to begin with.
It’s too soon to make final conclusions. Raisi has been president for a week, and he doesn’t yet have a cabinet or a negotiating team. A leader’s “profile” is a fickle device. It can describe the past but it can’t predict the future.’

Read the complete article here.

You can have excellent relationships with one leader who has a borderline personality while the other leader suffering from borderline is presented as a threat to world peace.

An how about ideology? Necessity remains necessity. Then talk about heroic flexibility.

Also, good to keep in mind that the Taliban is dependent on the export of drugs mainly used for consumption in the West. The role of Pakistan should not be underestimated of course.

The Taliban might be mostly an enormous drugs conglomerate with several local drug lords, the ideology is a side effect.

As to the US retreat, after the Soviet-Union completed its retreat in 1989 the Najibullah government held on to power longer than was expected, till 1992.

Najibullah was tortured and killed by the Taliban in 1996.

As to the Afghan forces, I suggest to take a closer look at the South Lebanon Army and what happened with that army after Israel retreated from the southern part of Lebanon in 2000.

Loyalty? Necessity first, necessity second, necessity third, die first, then we might be able to think about the word ‘loyalty’.

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