Soleimani Was the Hardest of the Hardliners in Iran

Iran's General Qassem Soleimani was in America's cross-hairs for many years. He was the hardest of the hardliners in Tehran. He was very effective in his role as the head of the elite but ruthless Qods Force which is part of Iran's "Pasdaraan" (Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps). He had made many powerful enemies, both at home and abroad. Some conspiracy theorists are speculating that his assassination was staged by American and Iranian intelligence agencies to get rid of the Iranian general who was getting too big for his boots. American and Iranian Intelligence agencies have cooperated in their common battle against ISIS in recent years. Both sides wanted to eliminate Soleimani for their own reasons but without starting a real US-Iran war.

Soleimani Assassination: 

His assassination on President Donald Trump's orders last week brought Washington and Tehran to the brink of yet another major war in the Middle East as  Iran lobbed over a dozen missiles at two Iraqi airbases housing American troops. The world took a sigh of relief when Trump decided to not escalate the situation. At the same time, conspiracy theorists have speculated that the whole things was staged by American and Iranian intelligence agencies to get rid of the Iranian general who was getting too big for his boots.  American and Iranian Intelligence agencies have cooperated in their common battle against ISIS in recent years. Both sides wanted to eliminate Soleimani without starting a real war.

Soleimani's assassination has raised many questions: Was it just President Trump who wanted the Qods Force chief dead? Are there others, particularly in Teheran, who are privately happy to see him gone? Was the general getting too big for his boots? Did some of the leaders in the Islamic Republic see his growing popularity and arrogance as a threat to their own power?  Let's try and address these questions.

Soleimani's Growing Popularity:

Polling data showed Soleimani was more popular than other major public figures, according to the Center for International Studies at the University of Maryland. It published a survey in 2018 that found Soleimani had a popularity rating of 83%, beating President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif.

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Soleimani vs Rouhani:

There were reports in 2018 of President Hassan Rouhani lashing out at Soleimani during a meeting with several senior IRGC officers in attendance,  accusing him of hiding the truth from the president and even from the supreme leader. Soleimani left the room in anger. Earlier, when the two met during Friday prayers, Soleimani warned the president about the “folly of not increasing the budget allotted to Quds.”

Soleimani vs Zarif:

Soleimani sat by Imam Khamenei’s side at key meetings, conveying his importance in the eyes of the spiritual leader. He met Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad in February 2019 together with the supreme leader — but without Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, triggering resignation threats by Iran's top diplomat.

Soleimani Threatened Pakistan:

In February, 2019, Soleimani threatened Pakistan. He boasted of Iran's "independent power and honor". He said:

"I warn you not to test Iran and anyone who has tested Iran has received firm response. We are speaking to Pakistan with a friendly tone and we are telling that country not to allow their borders to become a source of insecurity for the neighboring countries..... Iran enjoys independent power and honor. Some countries have wealth, but no prowess. Trump tells the Al-Saud that if it hadn't been for the US support, Saudi Arabia would not have survived and Saudi Arabia's coalitions in the region have all ended in failure."

Soleimani's tone in this message to Pakistan is anything but "friendly".

Soleimani's Global Covert Ops:

In 2012, Indian investigators found that five members of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were involved bombing of a car of the wife of the Israeli defense attache in New Delhi.  IRGC was also allegedly linked to a similar attack in Thailand. The 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina that killed 85 is believed to be IRGC's revenge in part for the 1992 killing of a Hezbollah leader.


General Qassem Soleimani was the hardest of the hardliners.  As the head of the powerful and ruthless Qods Force, he made many powerful enemies at home and abroad.  Some conspiracy theorists are speculating that his assassination was staged by American and Iranian intelligence agencies to get rid of the Iranian general who was getting too big for his boots.  American and Iranian Intelligence agencies have cooperated in their common battle against ISIS in recent years. Both sides wanted to eliminate Soleimani for their own reasons but without starting a real US-Iran war. He was part of Mullah regime in Iran that has ruined a great country by unnecessarily challenging the United States which they refer to as "Shaitan Buzurg" (Great Satan). Even their missiles paraded every year in the streets of Tehran have “Marg Bar Amrika” (Death to America)  painted on them. Iranian Ex President Ahmadinejad brought unwanted and unhelpful US attention when he threatened to nuke Israel. Even as Iranians are suffering due to US sanctions and poor governance by mullahs, Solemani was going around spending money supporting Shia militias to establish Iran as regional hegemon. These policies have badly hurt Iran and its people.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Iran-Pakistan Ties

Iran's Chabahar and Pakistan's Gwadar Ports

Indian RAW Agent Kulbhushan Jhadav Used Chabahar

Iran-Saudi Conflict

Pakistan's Nuclear Program

Iran Nuclear Deal

1971 India-Pakistan War

Chabahar vs Gwadar Ports

Did America Contribute to the Rise of ISIS?

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network


Riaz Haq said…
#CIA Chief Gina Haspel reportedly pushed for #Soleimani's killing — and perfectly predicted #Iran's response. Was it staged? She advised #Trump that the threat Soleimani presented was greater than the threat of Iran's response if he was killed. via @Yahoo

The Trump administration reportedly knew exactly what would happen when it killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Okay, so it may have just been the prediction of CIA Director Gina Haspel that Iran would retaliate with airstrikes on Iraqi military bases holding U.S. troops. But it was partly based on her analysis that the U.S. decided to assassinate Soleimani in the first place, administration officials tell The New York Times:

In the days before General Suleimani’s death, Ms. Haspel had advised Mr. Trump that the threat the Iranian general presented was greater than the threat of Iran's response if he was killed, according to current and former American officials. Indeed, Ms. Haspel had predicted the most likely response would be a missile strike from Iran to bases where American troops were deployed, the very situation that appeared to be playing out on Tuesday afternoon. [The New York Times]

The Times is careful to point out that "Haspel took no formal position about whether to kill General Soleimani," but "officials who listened to her analysis came away with the clear view that the C.I.A. believed that killing him would improve — not weaken — security in the Middle East." Read more at The New York Times.
Riaz Haq said…
BBC News - #Iran says it 'unintentionally' shot down #Ukraine passenger airplane killing all 176 people on board. Iran had previously rejected suggestions that one of its #missiles brought down the plane near #Tehran on Wednesday. #UkrainianPlaneCrash

Iran's military says it "unintentionally" shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, Iran's state TV reports.

The statement said it had done so due to "human error" after the plane flew close to a sensitive site belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Those responsible would be held accountable, the statement said.

Iran had previously rejected suggestions that one of its missiles brought down the plane near the capital, Tehran, on Wednesday.

But pressure mounted after the US and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believed Iran had brought the plane down with a missile, possibly accidently.

The crash of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 with the loss of 176 lives came just hours after Iran carried out missile strikes on two airbases housing US forces in Iraq.

The Ukrainian flight was headed to the Canadian city of Toronto via the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

US media have speculated that the airliner may have been mistaken for a warplane as Iran prepared for possible US retaliation.

Iran has promised a full investigation. However, TV images from the crash site on Thursday showed a mechanical digger helping to clear debris away, raising concerns that important evidence could have been removed.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran Buries 21 #Afghan, #Pakistani #Shia Proxy Fighters Killed In #Syria clashes in #Idlib. #Hezbollah also lost 8-14 fighters. 18 Pakistani Shiite fighters of Zeynabyoun Brigade and 3 members of Afghan Shiite Fatemyoun Brigade were buried in #Qom.

In intense clashes taking place in Syria’s Idlib province in recent days 21 members of Iran-backed Afghan and Pakistani militias were killed, Qom News an Iranian website has reported.

The report says 18 members of Pakistani Shiite fighters of Zeynabyoun Brigate and three members of Afghan Shiite Fatemyoun Brigade died in battles.

As Iran became deeply involved in the Syrian civil war it organized proxy forces to do the dangerous ground fighting, while Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) officers and advisers largely provided command and support to a variety of forces.

The burial ceremony of those killed took place on Sunday, March 1 in Iran’s holy city of Qom.

Forces loyal to Syria’s strongman Bashar Assad intensified their attacks on Idlib in recent weeks to defeat rebel forces and take back control. Turkey, which provides support, including diplomatic backing to Syrian rebels intervened to defend a disengagement line agreed with Russia and Assad in 2018.

An air attack, which killed scores of Turkish forces on February 27, led to military retaliation by Ankara against pro-Assad forces, possibly including Iran-backed fighters.

Iran’s ally Hezbollah also lost 8-14 fighters on Friday, based on different estimates, and thousands gathered in Beirut for their burial on Sunday.

Turkey downed two Syrian fighter jets on Sunday as it continued attacks on pro-Syrian forces. However, Ankara reiterated that it has no desire to confront Russian forces in Syria.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan know where Kulbhushan Jadhav came from. Pakistan knows India RAW agents work under cover at Chabahar. It’s not possible that this is happening without IRG approval. Pakistan has demanded action by Teheran against Baloch Terrorists

The Baloch insurgents who killed 14 people along Pakistan’s coast this week are based in neighboring Iran, Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Saturday, heightening tensions ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s trip to Tehran on Sunday.

Relations between Iran and Pakistan have been strained in recent months, with both sides accusing each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.

A new umbrella group representing various insurgent outfits operating in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province bordering Iran claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday, when 14 passengers were killed after being kidnapped from buses on southwestern Pakistan.

The militants checked the identity cards of passengers, singled out some of them, and then kidnapped and killed them. The Baloch Raji Aajoi Saangar (BRAS) umbrella group said it targeted Pakistani navy and Coast Guard officials traveling on buses.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his country was angry about the attack and called for Iran to take action against BRAS militants.

“The training camps and logistical camps of this new alliance...are inside the Iranian border region,” Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad.

Qureshi said he spoke to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and conveyed to him the “anger of Pakistani nation”.

Iranian officials could not be reached for comment. Iran’s state news agency IRNA confirmed the two men spoke.
Riaz Haq said…
Should #Iran blame #ISI while it helps #India's #RAW against #Pakistan? Iran also cannot afford to turn Pakistan into an enemy given its current level of hostile relations from #US, #Israel to #GCC countries, shared border logic. #KarachiTerroristAttack

Iran’s blame against the ISI came as a surprise raising many questions: how come Iran is so sure of the ISI’s involvement? Why Tehran did not entertain the possibility of an Indian hand beyond this incident? And why Iran did not take into account the fact that RAW has been operating out of Baluchistan and involved in false flag operations?

Following are the reasons which defy the underlying logic of Pakistan’s alleged involvement in the blast:

Why Pakistan would want to undermine its relations with Iran at a time when it needs Tehran’s supporting role (not spoiler’s role) in Afghanistan.
Islamabad, particularly the Army Chief Gen Bajwa worked very hard to improve ties with Iran.
Pakistan’s policymakers are very much convinced that Islamabad belongs to this region and it took more than 10 years to restore credibility in the eyes of Iran and Russia for forging close relations and for its quest to pivot to Euro-Asia.
Any attempt of undermining Iran means potentially undermining the Entente Cordiale, Pakistan pain strikingly achieved with Russia.
Upsetting China—which sees Iran as long term important friendly country to connect with its ambitious BRI project—is not in Pakistan’s interest; in other words, whatever concerns Pakistan may have with Iran, they may not be necessarily shared by the China which has much bigger priorities as a rising world power.
Any kinetic operation by the ISI in Iran will never get approval a) when Pakistan itself is vulnerable [read Baluchistan] b) having Iranian leverage against its second largest Shia population and c) Shia community has respectable representation at the top echelon of the inclusive Pakistan army forces which will never be bypassed nor behind its back any approval will be granted for any such operation on Iranian soil.
The proximity factor also precludes the ISI of doing any such operation next door to Pakistan’s Baluchistan province (e.g., Sistan/Baluchistan).
The predecessor of the blamed militant outfit was neutralized by the ISI and its leader Ragi was handed over to Iran.
The incident happens on a very unfortunate time when Pakistan is trying to pull off Afghan reconciliation and many spoilers do not want to see Islamabad succeed.
How come Tehran is so sure that this is not a “false flag” operation, when the Indian Intelligence Agency, RAW, is very much active in Pakistani’s Baluchistan border region; after all, it burnt down the province (Baluchistan) in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack in 2008; therefore, the fact that it has the hallmark of the RAW’s false flag operation could not be ruled out.
Pakistan’s big picture with Iran is clear: it has 900 km border with Tehran so cannot afford Iran as an enemy after hostile Indian and Afghan borders hence are not beneficiary in annoying Tehran.
Riaz Haq said…
Operation underway against militants near Pakistan-Iran border

In the most recent attack that has caused friction between the two nations, six Pakistani security personnel were killed in a bomb attack on a paramilitary Frontier Corps vehicle, the army’s media wing said on May 19. Six Pakistani soldiers were also killed in a roadside bomb attack in Balochistan on May 8.

Several militant groups are active in Balochistan, Pakistan’s biggest but poorest province. Much of the violence in the past has been blamed on, or claimed by, ethnic Baloch separatists.

Baloch Khan, a spokesperson for Baloch Raaji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), an umbrella group of Baloch insurgent groups, confirmed in a media statement last month that a “Pakistan army operation” was ongoing and soldiers were surrounding and raiding remote villages. However, he said no commanders or fighters of BRAS had been killed in the attacks.

An intelligence official who declined to be named told Arab News that it is called the Ground Zero Clearance Operation.

Two additional intelligence officials confirmed that an operation is ongoing. Two local witnesses in the Mand area of Kech district also confirmed “actions” in their area.

In a Twitter post on May 23, a pro-government politician from Balochistan, Nawabzada Jamal Khan Raisani, said the Pakistani military had launched “a sweeping operation” against the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) along the border with Iran.

Both groups are part of BRAS, along with the Baloch Republican Army and the Baloch Republican Guards.

“The action began (on May 21) with a string of terrorists neutralized and hideouts busted,” Raisani said.

He told Arab News that a senior BLF commander, Abdul Hameed (alias Ghazin Baloch), was among two dozen militants killed in the ongoing operation, which he said was led by Pakistani soldiers and intelligence officers.

The media wing of the Pakistani military and the Foreign Office declined a request by Arab News for comment.

Ijaz Ahmed Shah, the federal interior minister, said his team would respond to emailed questions, but no reply had been received until the time of press.

Balochistan Home Minister Mir Zia Ullah Langove did not respond to specific questions about the operation “for security reasons,” but said: “We have taken effective actions.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media on the issue, one intelligence officer based in the city of Turbat said a “bank of targets” had been gathered by officials over many weeks, and raids are now being carried out in several areas, particularly against militants hiding in the border areas of Kecch, Panjgur and Gwadar.

Pakistan began fencing its 900-km border with Iran in May last year, which had become a source of “frustration” for militants, the intelligence official said, leading them to plan more attacks.

Last month, Pakistan’s military chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa spoke to his Iranian counterpart Maj. Gen. Mohammed Bagheri via telephone.

They discussed border fencing, the improvement of border terminals, enhancing security and recent attacks on Pakistani troops near the border, among other issues, according to a statement from the Pakistani Army’s media wing.

On April 20 last year, just days after militants killed 14 bus passengers in an attack along the border with Iran, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the insurgents behind the attack were based in Iran, calling on Tehran to take action. The attack had been claimed by BRAS.

“The training camps and logistical camps of this new alliance (BRAS) ... are inside the Iranian border region,” Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad. Iran denied any state involvement.
Khawar S. said…
The dots do not connect Sir and it seems like you are pushing a theory rather than analyzing the situation. The Baloch on both sides of the border act against their own countries and seek refuge in the other.
Iran and Pakistan may not have the best of relations but they are not enemies.
Riaz Haq said…
Khawar: "The dots do not connect Sir and it seems like you are pushing a theory rather than analyzing the situation"

If Iran hosting 4,000 Indians at Chabahar, including undercover RAW agents like Kulbhushan Jadhav, does not bother you, then nothing will. There’s no point in further discussing it with you.
Faraz D. said…
lol what’s bizarre argument. US, UK, Saudi, UAE, Canada, and many other countries hosting many more Indians, therefore all those countries become enemy countries. He will accuse anyone of being Shia, Indian supporter/agent, NDS agent, perhaps Qadiani, or Israeli agent if you talk rationale with Riaz Haq.
Riaz Haq said…
Faraz: "lol what’s bizarre argument. US, UK, Saudi, UAE, Canada, and many other countries hosting many more Indians"

Have Pakistan ever caught any Indian like Kulbhushan Jhadav from any of these countries like US, UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Canada? To the best my knowledge, the answer is NO. If Iran was serious about preventing use of Chabahar for covert ops against Pakistan then they would have a better vetting process. At a minimum, Iran would act after the arrest of Kulbhushan. It's clearly not happened because there have been more attacks from Iran after Kulbhushan's arrest.
Riaz Haq said…
All #Pakistanis must acknowledge that #Afghanistan, #India and #Iran are no friends of #Pakistan. #Iranian and #Afghan governments host thousands of #RAW agents who launch #terror attacks in Pakistan. Pakistan's security policy should reflect this fact.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistani gangster Uzair Baloch spied for #Iran. Baloch says he obtained a fake Iranian birth certificate in 1980s and Iranian identity card & passport in 2006. He's been convicted of spying by a military court and sentenced to 12 years in prison,

A Pakistani ganglord suspected of being behind a criminal empire of extortion, kidnapping and drug trafficking, has confessed to spying for Iranian intelligence agencies in 2014, according to a report released by Pakistan’s provincial government in Sindh this week.

The report said Uzair Jan Baloch was also convicted of spying this April by a military court and sentenced to 12 years in prison, according to a June 13 letter written by the senior superintendent of Karachi Central Jail.

A copy of the letter was seen by Arab News, though the Pakistani military could not be reached to confirm if Baloch had been convicted by an army tribunal.

Baloch, for years considered close to politicians within Sindh’s ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), is currently accused in at least 59 criminal cases, according to police records.

He is allegedly being held at a makeshift jail at the Karachi office of the paramilitary “Rangers” force. The PPP denies any links with the gang leader.

In 2016, Baloch was interrogated by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising police, Rangers, and a number of civilian and military intelligence agencies. Officials said he admitted spying for Iran and being involved in 59 acts of murder, kidnapping, extortion and attacks on law enforcement.

According to the report, Baloch told the investigation that he obtained a fake Iranian birth certificate in the late 1980s and an Iranian identity card and passport in 2006.

The report details how he met a man named Haji Nasir in the Iranian city of Chabahar in 2014. Nasir offered to arrange a meeting between Baloch and Iranian intelligence officers.

“On the consent of the accused a meeting with Iranian intelligence officers was arranged by Haji Nasir in which the accused was asked to provide certain information about (Pakistan) armed forces officials,” the JIT report, which is publicly available, said.

It added: “The accused is found involved in espionage activities by providing secret information and sketches regarding army installations and officials to foreign agents, which is a violation of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.”

For years, Baloch thrived in Sindh’s teeming capital of Karachi, a key figurehead in the city’s notorious gang wars.

However, in 2006 he fled to Iran to escape an operation against street gangs in Lyari, one of Karachi’s most dangerous neighborhoods at the time.

He returned to Pakistan for a number of years, during which he even took part in a local government election, but he once again escaped to Iran in 2013 when Pakistan’s powerful paramilitary Rangers launched an armed operation to bring down Karachi’s soaring crime rates.

Baloch is believed to have also lived in Oman briefly before being arrested by Interpol in Dubai in December 2014.

In January 2016, Rangers announced that they had taken Baloch into custody in Karachi. The arrest surprised many who thought he was already in jail after being detained in Dubai.

The JIT report said after Baloch confessed to spying for Iran, he was handed over to the Pakistani military to be tried.

In a Twitter post in 2017, the head of the Pakistani military’s media wing said Baloch had been taken into custody under the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act. However, the army has not revealed any details of his subsequent trial before a military court.
Riaz Haq said…
Why is India losing Iran? Death of #IRGC’s General Qassem Suleimani, who frequently criticized #Pakistan and fostered #India’s interests in #Afghanistan and #Iran's #Chabahar port, has altered the Iran-India equation. #China #CPEC #BRI

A month after his (Soleimani's) death at Baghdad airport, Iran’s Ambassador to Islamabad, Syyed Muhammad Husseini, revived an old proposal to build an association of five nations to resolve problems of this region. Termed as the “ golden ring”, the proposed alliance, besides Iran also included Pakistan, Turkey, Russia and China.

Long before Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif criticised India for the “massacres of Muslims” during the Delhi riots, an act that attracted sharp rebuke from India’s foreign ministry, there were plenty of signs that the two countries had begun to move away from each other in different directions that were prompted by their respective foreign and domestic policy compulsions and now the coronavirus pandemic.


All these reasons and more are raising severe doubts about even the recent Indian foreign policy investments in Iran including on the Chabahar port. The big question is: Will India’s attempts to have an enduring land route to Afghanistan and Central Asia, by sidestepping Pakistan, through Chabahar survive the vicissitudes of recent times? In the past few months though, the Commerce Ministry has eased rules to speed up the project, but it continues at its own pace.

The Chabahar port
India’s existential anxieties about its creative foreign policy to side step Pakistan and rebuild ties with Iran through investing in Chabahar port have deepened ever since US signed an agreement with Islamic Republic of Afghanistan — as Taliban is called. The agreement will allow Washington to withdraw its troops that have been locked in a war for 19 years. Agreement with Taliban does not factor Indian interests and the shifting ground realities. It has been crafted by a desperate US to get out of Afghanistan before the US elections so that President Donald Trump could safely say that he fulfilled most of the electoral promises.

India has justifiable fears that the Taliban — a proxy of Pakistan — would not respect Indian interests or investments. After the agreement in Doha was signed, Taliban is expanding rapidly. Like it happened in the past, city after city may start falling. They may also unleash violence against Indian interests — the recent massacre of 25 Afghan Sikhs in a gurdwara is a case in point.

Taliban’s rise also could see the stifling of Chabahar port’s growth and the transit route to Afghanistan’s route 606 or Zaranj-Delaram road (built by India), which allows India’s ingress to garland highway and connects further to Central Asia. This could fit well with Pakistan’s plans that has been lobbying hard to prevent Chabahar from acquiring any commercial or strategic meaning.

There is a belief that the agreement with Taliban may not have taken place so soon if Iran’s Quds Force chief, Qassem Suleimani, had not been assassinated at the turn to the new year.

Islamabad has been resentful of General Suleimani and his visible proximity to India, which saw his frequent criticism of Pakistan’s use of terror as state policy. “We are telling that country (Pakistani) not to allow their borders to become a source of insecurity for the neighbouring countries; anyone who has made this plot for Pakistan is seeking to disintegrate that country,” Suleimani told an Iranian news agency. There was expectedly, great joy in Pakistani military establishment when Suleimani was killed.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #RAW recruited 3 warlords in #Afghanistan, including Ahmad Shah Masood, says 'RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations' by investigative journalist Yatish Yadav. He doesn’t disclose the names of 2 other warlords still in #Afghan politics

At least three RAW spies involved in covert action in Afghanistan have claimed that Afghan armed forces were "demoralised and divided, remained practically inactive" during the Soviet army’s December 1979 invasion, the book, which will be released on Monday said.

The book also claims that the US knew about the Indian activities in Afghanistan and the Americans launched propaganda against the RAW with stories appearing with Washington dateline, which said that the US supply of arms was a "sort of punishment" to India for failing to oppose the Soviet Union on Afghan soil and the Soviet-Vietnam interference in Cambodia.

RAW also feared, the book said, that the Taliban would not waste time in killing former President of Afghanistan Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai once they gained dominance in the war. An Indian spy recalled the message the RAW sent to Najibullah,
who was staying at the UN mission in Kabul, to leave the country but he refused outrightly. Another effort was made through a reluctant Massoud, but Najibullah rejected the offer once again, arguing that the Taliban may not attack him.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran paid #Taliban to kill #US troops in #Afghanistan which contributed to #Trump's #Soleimani airstrike decision. Payments to Haqqani led to deadly Taliban rocket attack at Bagram Air Base killing 2 civilians & injuring over 70 others. via @amermilnews

The bounty allegations came about amid a delicate moment in U.S.-Taliban peace talks. Trump had previously declared Taliban peace talks dead, but less than two weeks before the December attack on Bagram Air Base, Trump did tell U.S. troops during a visit to Afghanistan that he planned to resume peace talks with the Taliban.

The internal discussions about the bounty payments reportedly lasted for around three months amid the peace deliberations between the U.S. and the Taliban. The discussions reportedly ended in late March after a peace agreement was already underway between the U.S. and the Taliban. An internal memo obtained by CNN said the relationship between the Haqqani Network and Iran “poses a significant threat to US interests” but that National Security Council officials ultimately recommended against taking action to address the relationship.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the specific Iran-Taliban allegations but did acknowledge Iranian efforts to undermine the U.S.-Taliban peace process and overall Iranian efforts to destabilize the Middle East.

“The administration has repeatedly demanded, both publicly and privately, that Iran cease its scourge of malign and destabilizing behavior throughout the Middle East and the world,” Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Rob Lodewick told CNN. “While the United States, its NATO allies and coalition partners are working to facilitate an end to 19 years of bloodshed, Iran’s inimical influence seeks to undermine the Afghan peace process and foster a continuation of violence and instability.”

The report comes just weeks after similar allegations Russia’s GRU intelligence service has also paid bounties for Taliban fighters to attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Russian bounty allegations also raised controversial claims Trump was warned about the bounties but declined to take action against Russia or the Taliban. Separately, Pentagon officials have said the Russian bounty allegations had not been corroborated.

U.S. military officials have previously accused Iran’s military and Soleimani in particular of proliferating aid to terror groups in attacking U.S. forces. In April of 2019, the Trump administration did designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the parent military branch of the Quds Force, as a terrorist group based on its sponsorship of terrorist activities throughout the Middle East.
Riaz Haq said…
In a 2016 drone strike in Balochistan, Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was killed while returning from Iran.

On May 21, after a drone strike obliterated a car and its two occupants in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, local officials discovered a Pakistani passport, miraculously intact, amid the smoldering wreckage and two bodies charred beyond recognition. The passport belonged to a man identified as Wali Muhammad. Its photo bore an uncanny resemblance to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban targeted by the drone strike, who lay dead close by. According to reports in the Pakistani press, the passport indicated that its owner, presumably Mullah Mansour, had been returning from Iran, where he had been since April 26. He had also traveled there for several weeks in February and March.

Mullah Mansour’s decision to visit Iran and leave his sanctuary in Balochistan — where the Afghan Taliban’s top leadership had long been safely ensconced — is odd. After all, Tehran is no friend of the Taliban; on the contrary, it has formally aligned itself with Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban actors. It played an instrumental role at the 2001 Bonn Conference that established a post-Taliban government. In the early years of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Tehran gave Washington maps showing Taliban positions, and its military offered to train 20,000 Afghan troops.

Iran also has good reason to distance itself from the Taliban. Simple sectarian considerations — Iran is Shiite, the Taliban is Sunni — offer one explanation. But the divergences run deeper: The Taliban harbors links to Jundallah, an anti-state Sunni terror group in Iran. It oversees a flourishing narcotics trade that feeds Iran’s crippling heroin epidemic, and it has been blamed for the killings of nearly a dozen Iranian diplomats at their consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif in 1998, which brought Iran and Taliban-run Afghanistan to the brink of war (according to some accounts, the Pakistani anti-Shiite militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba was behind that attack).

Western authorities have a simple explanation for Mullah Mansour’s presence in Iran: He was there to receive medical treatment, according to a European official quoted in the New York Times, in order to avoid Pakistani hospitals and the watchful eye of his patron, Pakistan’s intelligence agency. No specifics were given as to what he was being treated for. The Wall Street Journal, curiously, has reported that Mullah Mansour was actually in Iran to visit family. In any case, U.S. officials knew of his whereabouts and, aided by communications intercepts, were able to track him there. According to a tweet by NPR correspondent Tom Bowman, Washington even had his SIM card number.

Mullah Mansour’s trip to Iran may well have been a simple trip to the doctor. But the trip may have had more nefarious purposes, too. Despite the differences between Tehran and the Taliban, they share some key interests and have often cooperated operationally. Indeed, Tehran and the Taliban have a more symbiotic relationship than meets the eye.Indeed, Tehran and the Taliban have a more symbiotic relationship than meets the eye. In particular, they are both wary of the West and particularly the United States. And each seeks to undercut Washington’s influence.
Thomas Joscelyn, an international security analyst and senior editor with the Long War Journal, has presented a compelling case of long-standing links between Iran and the Taliban. These links date back to 2000, when, according to unclassified U.S. government memos, Mullah Mohammed Omar tasked Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa, the Taliban governor of Herat province, with improving relations between the organization and Tehran. As a result of this outreach, Iran agreed to supply the Taliban with mines and small arms.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran sourced #fakenews at work to strain #Saudi-#Pakistan bilateral ties. Dawn Newspaper's Tanveer Arain fooled by "Saudi Defense Minister calls #Pakistani "slaves" story.

It is no news that all is not well in the Arab world. In the latest, it has been reported that Pakistan has offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran, in order to avoid strained relationships with both countries.

The spread of fake news, however, is a ready-made recipe for straining bilateral relationships.

Tanveer Arain, journalist and political analyst with some of the leading publications in Pakistan, including The Dawn, took to Twitter to draw attention to a letter, allegedly written by Saudi Arabian Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Suleiman.

The letter allegedly quotes the defence minister calling Pakistan a “slave country” and that “it will remain Saudi Arabia’s slave” country.

Tanveer’s tweet was retweeted 679 times, and was liked 605 times by Twitter users. His tweet also prompted to swiftly pick up story.

The story was shared 33,000 times on Facebook, from the Postcard portal. The story elaborately describes how Saudi considers other Muslim countries to be of ‘converted’ status. The story reads:

Muhammad Bin Suleiman believes that Pakistanis are the slaves of the Arabs. This statement proves that Saudis looks at every other Muslim country with the ‘converted-Muslim’ perspective. Muslims from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are called ‘Hindu-Muslims’ in Saudi.
The story was also picked by Defence Tube, a YouTube channel which has 7,800-odd subscribers and by a Facebook page on Indian Defence, where it was widely shared.

What The Letter Actually Says
Senior journalist Abbas Nasir, who was a former editor of The Dawn and has also been associated with BBC, was quick to raise that a Tehran dateline was dodgy for a story related to Saudi.

Mustaqbil Pakistan party leader Nadeem M Qureshi also responded to Taveer’s tweet about the letter being “fake news”.
Riaz Haq said…
Did Iran plot four attacks in Europe? The Dutch government thinks so.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Iran’s intelligence ministry and two Iranian nationals on Tuesday as the Dutch government accused Iran of likely involvement in two assassination plots in the Netherlands.

The allegations were contained in a letter released by the Dutch government to parliament. The letter indicates Iran is suspected in at least four assassination and bomb plots in Europe since 2015, which will probably bolster the Trump administration’s calls for greater international isolation of Tehran.

The investigations of the two killings led to the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats from the Netherlands in June 2018, the letter said, a move that was not disclosed at the time. The diplomats were not expelled over any confirmed personal involvement in the killings, the letter stated, “but as a clear signal that the Netherlands regards Iran’s probable involvement in these serious cases as unacceptable.”

According to the letter, signed by Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren, Iranian officials denied any involvement in the killings when contacted.

AIVD, the Dutch domestic intelligence service, said the first incident occurred in the city of Almere, near Amsterdam, in December 2015. It said a man named Ali Motamed, 56, was shot at point-blank range by two people. The killing initially surprised neighbors: Motamed was an electrician who apparently lived a quiet life with his wife and son.

But the Dutch newspaper Het Parool reported last year that, according to court documents, Motamed was living under an assumed name. His real name was Mohammad Reza Kolahi, and he had been sentenced to death in absentia in Iran in connection with organizing a 1981 bombing of the Islamic Republican Party’s headquarters in Tehran. The attack killed more than 70 people, including the No. 2 figure in the newly established Islamic republic of Iran, Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammed Beheshti.

Het Parool reported Kolahi entered the Netherlands as a refugee in the 1980s and the Dutch government was not aware of his alleged involvement in the 1981 bombing until his death. The two suspects in his killing were Dutch criminals without connections to the local Iranian community.

The second killing identified in the letter occurred in The Hague in November 2017. In that incident, 52-year-old Ahmad Mola Nissi, the founder of an Arab nationalist movement in the Iranian province of Khuzestan, was shot in front of his home.

Nissi’s daughter blamed his death on the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. “Europe seems safe, but be careful,” Hawra Ahmad Nissi told Reuters in an interview. “The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not confined to the Middle East. It is spreading into Europe.”
Riaz Haq said…
In a leaked audiotape that offers a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes power struggles of Iranian leaders, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Revolutionary Guards Corps call the shots, overruling many government decisions and ignoring advice.

In one extraordinary moment on the tape that surfaced Sunday, Mr. Zarif departed from the reverential official line on Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the Guards’ elite Quds Force, the foreign-facing arm of Iran’s security apparatus, who was killed by the United States in January 2020.

The general, Mr. Zarif said, undermined him at many steps, working with Russia to sabotage the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and adopting policies toward Syria’s long war that damaged Iran’s interests.

“In the Islamic Republic the military field rules,” Mr. Zarif said in a three-hour taped conversation that was a part of an oral history project documenting the work of the current administration. “I have sacrificed diplomacy for the military field rather than the field servicing diplomacy.”

Mr. Zarif said he was kept in the dark on government actions — sometimes to his embarrassment.

On the night that Iran decided to retaliate against the United States for the killing of General Suleimani, two Quds Force commanders went to see the Iraqi prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, to inform him that in about 45 minutes Iran would be firing missiles at a military base where U.S. troops were stationed, Mr. Zarif said. The Americans knew about the strike before he did.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry informed him that Israel had attacked Iranian interests in Syria at least 200 times, to his astonishment, Mr. Zarif said.


Leaked tape pulls back curtain on Iran's foreign policy
Riaz Haq said…
Leader (Ayatollah) rebukes Foreign Minister Zarif over leaked remarks on foreign policy

This force carries out the policy of the Islamic Republic. The Western countries persistently want the foreign policy of Iran to come under their flag. They have been wanting this for years. Iran was under the Western domination both in later years of the Qajar dynasty and under the Pahlavi rule. The [Islamic] Revolution freed Iran of their dominion and now they are trying to restore that dominion,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

It is because of this opposition that the West frowns on any indication of such active foreign policy such as the Islamic Republic’s expanding its ties with China, Russia, and also its neighbors, the Leader stated.

The Leader said, “I know many cases in which when high-ranking officials of neighboring countries wanted to visit Iran, the Americans were opposed. We cannot step back in the face of their demand. We must act forcefully.”

Still referring to Zarif’s comments, Ayatollah Khamenei said some remarks “are repetition of the US [officials’] remarks. Suppose that Americans have been angry with Iran’s [regional] influence for many years. They were angry with Martyr Soleimani for this reason and this is why they martyred him.”

“We must not say something that would bring to mind the idea that we are repeating their remarks, both about the Quds Force and about Martyr Soleimani himself,” the Leader emphasized.

General Solaimeni was martyred along with his companions in a United States’ drone strike against Baghdad early last year.

During his lifetime, General Soleimani won reputation as the region’s most popular and decisive anti-terror commander. He was martyred while paying an official visit to the Iraqi capital.

Riaz Haq said…
Who would live and who would die: The inside story of the Iranian attack on Al Asad Airbase - CBS News

In January 2020, when the U.S. launched a drone strike to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, 2,000 American troops at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq braced for a retaliatory attack. They thought it probably would be a volley of rockets lobbed into their base, each carrying at most a 60-pound warhead.

Instead, Iran began moving ballistic missiles carrying warheads weighing more than 1,000 pounds into place for a full bombardment. An Army intelligence officer gave Major Alan Johnson his assessment of the Iranian threat: "Their intention is to level this base and we may not survive."

Like many Americans on the base, Johnson, 51, turned on his phone to record a final goodbye for his family: "Just know in your heart that I love you," he tearfully told his 6-year-old son. "Bye buddy."


Haines, head of the security forces protecting the base, was patrolling in his armored vehicle when the first missile hit just 75 yards away at 1:34 a.m.

It was like "old videos of Hiroshima," Haines said. "The bright light after it exploded, the cloud and the brightness."

The Iranian missiles continued in waves, and Americans left on the ground didn't know when another barrage was coming or where it might land

Johnson was knocked temporarily unconscious by the first blast. "The next thing I recall is our First Sergeant yelling at us . . . 'Everything's on fire. We gotta get out of here!' And that's when I realized, like, the fire was just rolling over the bunkers, you know, like 70 feet in the air . . . It's imperative we get out of the bunker or we're going to burn to death."

Johnson took off across open ground, sprinting for better cover when a loudspeaker blared out another alert: "Incoming! Incoming! Take Cover! Take Cover!" The missiles sounded like freight trains roaring by, he said.

"We get to the next bunker and realize there's roughly 40 people trying to stuff themselves into this bunker that's made for about 10 folks. . . I'm . . . the last person in line. . . and I grabbed the guy in front of me and, like, 'You got to get in the bunker!' and just like – shoved everybody in there."

Army Sergeant Kimo Keltz held his ground in a guard tower on the exposed perimeter of the base. One salvo hit just 30 yards away. Keltz curled into a fetal position to protect his vital organs. The blast wave lifted him two inches off the floor.

When it was over, Keltz and the other Americans emerged from their positions celebrating what seemed to be a miracle – no one was killed and there seemed to be no serious casualties. It would take hours, even days before they realized more than 100 soldiers and airmen suffered traumatic brain injury.

Keltz was one of them "because of how many blasts I took – within such a close radius of me."

Keltz's symptoms were like "someone hitting me over the head with a hammer over and over and over." Doctors have told him he has "concussive syndrome," a condition which may afflict him for the rest of his life.
Riaz Haq said…
Iran first welcomed #Taliban victory but assault on the #PanjshirValley changed #Iran. Iranian media falsely alleged #Pakistan military was assisting Taliban offensive, an allegation had earlier been made in hysterical clown show that is the #Indian media

by Zarrar Khuro

"Brinkmanship may be a hallmark of Iranian policy but it only works when you know for sure where the brink actually is"


When Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met Iranian President Seyed Ibrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Dushanbe, it was perhaps without the bonhomie that would ordinarily accompany such a meeting. But then these are extraordinary times, with the Taliban sweeping to power after the escape of Ashraf Ghani who, from the confines of his ivory tower in Kabul, perhaps imagined that the US would never abandon him and who also made the cardinal sin of believing his own spin.
As the region and the world attempts to reconcile itself with the new reality, Iran seems increasingly discomfited despite initially having welcomed ‘the military defeat and withdrawal of the United States’ from Afghanistan. Soon after the Taliban took Kabul, Iran resumed fuel supplies to Afghanistan in what was seen as an attempt to, if not normalize relations, then to at least not start off on the wrong foot with the new rulers of Kabul. But then once the Taliban assault on the Panjshir Valley began, the messaging from Iran became curious indeed, with Iranian media alleging that the Pakistan military was assisting the Taliban offensive with special forces and drone strikes. This allegation had previously been made in the hysterical clown show that is the Indian media which, true to form, used old footage from air exercises in Wales and Arizona and the occasional video game to illustrate its farcical reports. But even that spectacle was less surreal than seeing Iranian media quoting Fox News (not exactly known for its fair and balanced approach toward Iran) which in turn quoted an anonymous CENTCOM (which is listed as a terrorist organization in Iran) source as the origin of this ‘report.’
Now, one could argue that these are media reports and thus by no means an official state narrative-- but then just a few days back, an Iranian MP repeated the allegation, even going so far as to accuse Pakistan of using Chechen veterans of the Syrian civil war in this alleged assault. Now this is amusing because it’s not so much the pot calling the kettle black, but the pot actually inventing a kettle; if anyone can be accused of using proxy forces as an extension of foreign policy it is Iran, which has used sectarian militias operating under the aegis of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to project power and influence across the Middle East, from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon. It’s been a rather successful and relatively low-cost strategy, the transnational nature of which was on full display when on September 16, a convoy of Iranian fuel trucks entered Lebanon through Syria and was welcomed by Hezbollah members. A successful strategy begs to be replicated in other theaters and so Iran likely bet on doing the same in an Afghanistan where the Taliban and government forces would remain in a military deadlock for some time to come. In that scenario, not only would Ismail Khan of Herat prove an invaluable asset, but a prolonged conflict may also have provided the opportunity to redeploy the Liwa Fatemiyoun, a militia comprised of Afghan Shias which saw extensive action in Iraq and Syria. Even if that deployment never took place, Iran would still have been able to use the good offices of its main Afghan ally, warlord Ismail Khan of Herat, to project influence in a post-US dispensation.
Riaz Haq said…
FINALLY, ISPR comes up with a pro forma, perfunctory statement on the Kech attk, hours AFTER i wrote my analysis. but missing from all this is a simple fact: BLF, for years, has used Iran's soil for mounting attacks in southwest Balochistan. why are we afraid of that discussion?

in my public debate with
i constantly favoured a proactive CT policy. why wait for attacks on our soil; why not take the war to the enemies in Afghanistan and Iran? i can tell you we have the capability; not sure if we have the balls.

ps: are we more engrossed in the Islamabad power politics shit than securing our interests? as i said on
's programme last night, state with balls could take out Mohsin Fakhrezadeh south of Tehran. you wanna deal with Tehran, deal from a position of strength.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan is coming down hard on #Iran! On his recent visit, Iran’s interior minister Ahmad Vahidi was given the message that we know [about the use of Iranian soil by #Baloch insurgents]. If there are more attacks, we will take decisive action. @TRTWorld

The country’s overstretched patience with its southwestern neighbour is wearing thin over the Baloch insurgency.
In the dead of night on January 25, dozens of militants bearing advanced assault rifles and night-vision devices swooped down on a solitary paramilitary checkpost in Kech, some 180 km from Pakistan’s border with Iran, in the southwestern province of Balochistan. The sudden assault lasted for more than five hours, claiming the lives of 10 Pakistani troopers. The attackers reportedly fled to Iran.

The attack was later claimed by the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), one of the most lethal Baloch separatist groups stoking a decades-long armed struggle against the Pakistan Army, which operates out of southeastern Iran.

While relations between Iran and Pakistan have steadily deteriorated over cross-border militancy in the past few years, analysts assess that the sharp increase in terrorist attacks since last year, mainly in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province, has put the country's security establishment on tenterhooks.

Three days after the attack in Kech, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency stumbled upon a surprising discovery in the backroom of a money exchange company in Karachi. They found a network funneling millions of rupees from "a foreign intelligence agency" to proscribed militant groups in the country. Thirteen employees were rounded up, and days later, a senior bureaucrat was arrested in connection with the raid.

While the foreign intelligence agency behind the racket was barely identified in press conferences and local media coverage, a senior security official, on condition of anonymity, confirmed to TRT World that it belonged to Iran.

Then, on February 2, a coordinated attack on the paramilitary Frontier Corps headquarters in the towns of Panjgur and Noshki — areas close to the Iran border and the Baloch-majority regions in Afghanistan, respectively —stunned the nation. It took the army three days to clear the sites of the suicide attackers who, it said, were trained in Afghanistan by the Indian intelligence.

On February 14, Iran’s interior minister Ahmad Vahidi arrived in Islamabad for a day-long visit with the Commander of the Iranian Border Guards, Brigadier General Ahmad Ali Goudarzi, among other high-ranking officials.

While Pakistani leadership hailed the historic “brotherly ties” with Iran, privately the delegation was given a stern warning: “He was given the message that we know [about the use of Iranian soil by Baloch insurgents]. If there are more attacks, we will take decisive action,” says the security official, who is privy to details of the meeting.

The tri-border region of Nimroz in Afghanistan, an ethnic Baloch-dominated province straddling Pakistan and Iran in the south, is notorious for its powerful smuggling rackets dealing in weapons, opium, and human trafficking. To its east is the Helmand province, where vast poppy fields feed the global opium trade. This is also the region, along with Kandahar to its east, that welcomed fleeing Baloch brethren when former President General Pervez Musharraf ordered a military operation against Baloch insurgents in 2006. Many Baloch separatist leaders coordinated attacks on Pakistani security personnel and Chinese investments in Balochistan during the Afghan war.

When the Taliban took Kabul last year, they launched a swift crackdown on Baloch refugees and handed over many dissidents to the Pakistani authorities. Many Baloch rebels had already gone into hiding after assassination attempts in Kandahar, allegedly ordered by Pakistani officials over the past two years.

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