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The Race for Iran

Supporting Sunni Extremists Groups in Iran Would Be Short-Sighted

Jamsheed K. Chosky has an excellent article over at Foreign Policy – in which he provides a thorough description of Jundallah, the Sunni extremist group responsible for Sunday’s bombing in Baluchistan and makes a persuasive argument against U.S. support for Sunni extremist groups that seek to destabilize Iran.

Chosky’s argument is similar to one put forth by Flynt and Hillary on this blog on Monday.

From Chosky’s article:

Indeed, the Barack Obama administration might be tempted to use direct or indirect funding as a means of surrogate warfare to further pressure Iran’s government. Violent anti-Iranian Sunni groups like Jundallah have not been placed on the U.S. State Department’s terrorism list. And the Obama administration might feel that it’s already being punished for the perception that it’s funding the rebels and may as well try to reap some of the rewards.

But this would be shortsighted. The basic problem with any strategy to destabilize Iran via Sunni tribal rebellions is that Baluch nationalism spans three countries — not just Iran, but also Afghanistan and Pakistan. Supporting a pan-Baluchistan movement would only worsen societal instability and national fragmentation in West Asia and South Asia.

Militant groups, especially ones linked to ethnic and religious notions, have brought little but trouble to the world. It is important to recall the obvious: The United States and its partners once supported the Taliban materially because they were battling the Soviets and Russians. The United States shouldn’t repeat the mistake, fooling itself that Sunni Baluch nationalists will be better disposed toward the West just because they are now fighting a common foe in the Iranian government.

Yes, there might be the temptation to exert pressure, via internal strife, on Ahmadinejad’s autocratic regime for eliciting nuclear and international compromises. But Iran’s Sunni insurgency isn’t just bad news for the IRCG — it’s also bad news for the Middle East, Asia, and the United States. Ultimately, therefore, whether or not the Iranian regime’s charges of foreign interference are accurate, no country should welcome or aid an insurgency in eastern Iran. NGOs for terrorism really are harder to subdue than nation-states supporting such activities.

You can read the entire article here.

— Ben Katcher


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