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Shiite Iran has a long history of bitter enmity with the Sunni Taliban

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Despite President Joe Biden’s protests to the contrary, the optics of the US evacuation of Saigon (left) and Kabul (right) are identical.

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The media have compared US withdrawal from Vietnam to the ongoing withdrawal from Afghanistan. A similar war of attrition where a weaker army won against a more powerful one due to resilience and constant guérilla attacks. Closer to the Middle East, when Ehud Barak hastily withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, it was also met with similar mixed feelings. 

Vietnam was a North vs South situation and was more about communist vs nationalist, and not about ethno-religious groups – Vietnam is more ethnically homogenous than much of the Middle East. Barak had campaigned on a promise of withdrawing and overthrew Benjamin Netanyahu, delivering a hurried withdrawal. Foreign media showed south Lebanese crying and the statue of pro-Israel leader Saad Haddad toppled. They felt betrayed much like the South Vietnamese felt. The militias that helped fight Arafat and the Palestinians were just overrun by Hezbollah. And today Hezbollah dominates much of Lebanon and was emboldened to attack Israel, most notably in a brief 2006 conflict. 

Biden also only recently got elected and did the Afghanistan withdrawal in a mighty hurry, causing much mayhem and confusion. The pro-Israeli, South Lebanon army, just like the Afghan Army, was a true ally. They also felt equally betrayed. This sends a message that these powerful militaries cannot be trusted to safeguard those who risk their lives for them. 

US withdrawal from Iraq by Obama (2007-11) lead to Iran getting more involved in Iraq, ability to use this neighboring nation as a shipping route to Syria and Lebanon along with substantial amounts of Obama nuclear deal money and thus strengthening the Iranian axis. After all what was Iranian general Soleimani  in 2020 doing in a nation that US troop presence was once heavy in. The same hasty withdrawal also simultaneously caused an ISIS insurgency and genocide of Yazidis, Christians, Shia Muslims and several other groups. The withdrawal caused a vacuum whereby Iran and ISIS ditched it out with Turkey, Russia and other nations also getting involved and being all over the news.  

Another hasty withdrawal was when PM Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and this only strengthened Hamas which fires rockets constantly. Notably, they just fired a rocket in the aftermath of withdrawal and have celebrated the move as a victory. Afghanistan withdrawal is similar to that of Lebanon and Gaza. However, the Taliban who’ve taken over is Sunni. Iran and its proxies (except Hamas) are mostly Shia. 

During the ongoing Syrian war, Iran has used Shia Afghan refugees to bolster its ranks in their fight against Turkey, the Free Syrian Army, ISIS and all their enemies pretty much. These Shia Afghans helped prop the Assad regime alongside Shia militias from Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon. An Iranian militia named Liwa Fatemiyoun was even deployed as far away as in Yemen. 

Now that there is no US presence, even if Afghans put up a fight against Taliban unaided, Iran being a conventional military with a large 900km land border can still enter with impunity and install a presence and recruit more for its overseas wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and beyond. The Taliban, if you have read the novel ‘The Kite Runner’, are vehemently anti-Shia. 

Today Iranian proxy, Hezbollah controls much of Lebanon. They were the only militia that didn’t disband – other Shia, Sunni Christianity, Armenian and communist etc. militias all did. Even current President Michel Aoun came back only when invited back as a guest of Hezbollah. 

Iran has for now, been unusually welcoming of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and it is one of the few embassies (alongside Pakistan, Qatar, China and Indonesia) whose hours are unaffected by the recent turn of events. There are rumours circulating that Iran supplied arms to the Taliban during its war against US coalition and government forces, an accusation that Tehran has denied; So, the ‘enemy of my enemy’ is the USA for now, or so it seems.  

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However, Iran’s celebrating Taliban takeover could be short-lived given their strained relationship. Just like how many Shias celebrated Saddam being overthrown, but then launched attacks on US coalition troops abetted by Iran, things could brew in the aftermath. 

Shiite Iran has a long history of bitter enmity with the Sunni Taliban, and Taliban murdered Iranian diplomats in 1998. Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani, once said that it would be a “great and irreparable mistake” to trust the Taliban. Other Ayatollahs have said similar things about being skeptical of trusting the Taliban. 

Iranians though celebrating US withdrawal probably fear a refugee influx (they host 3 million Afghans currently). Disproportionately, many might be Shia and this could lead to war between Iran and the Taliban as Iran may create and arm more Shia militias. Afghanistan being landlocked has to depend on its neighbors for shipping – Pakistan, Iran or the -stans of Central Asia (which also landlocked this increasing Chinese and Russian activity). This could also lead to Pakistan-Iran tensions if Pakistan gets involved to help the Sunni Taliban and this will further strain relations with Pakistan’s Shia minority. 

As we have seen prior, hasty withdrawals in the region have produced more violence as groups vie for supremacy and the Taliban is the same group that once ruled with an iron fist – and neighboring Iran, which could become a great enemy, is no great human rights champion either. 

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

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Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

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