Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Another Good Question

Muslihoon asked me a pretty good question: "What do the Afghans think of the Iranian Bomb/nuclear ambitions?"

The answer is a bit more complex than my first reaction. (which was, "oh no, there goes the neighborhood").

The Afghans who made up the Northern Alliance were primarily ethnic Tajik, Dari speakers. These people have some strong ties to Iran - in fact, Iran was often the only help/hope that the Northern Alliance had at times, in their struggle with the Taliban. While almost all Afghans are Sunni (with the Iranians being almost all Shiite) Dari is an old form of the Persian language. Also, culturally, the two groups are not too far apart. Many ex-Alliance officials I knew had spent time in Iran, both as a sanctuary, for medical care, and as a vacation spot. These same officials would also wryly note that they understood our (America's) problems with Iran, shrug and continue on with the business at hand.

All that being said, I think the Afghans would really rather not have a nuclear armed Iran. Pakistan is quite enough, as well as Russia, in the neighborhood. Maybe I just believe that the Afghans have a little more experience in devistation than some of their neighbors, and the thought of a less than stable leadership brandishing atomic weapons brings no comfort to them.
Ironically, I think a piece in an Indonesian newspaper says what I think the Afghans would also say - "For Iran, nuclear weapons fall into the class of "nice to have" rather than life-or-death necessity." (Good Lord, I cannot believe I quoted Gwynne Dyer, what is the matter with me...)


Blogger Mighty Quinn said...

"Many ex-Alliance officials I knew had spent time in Iran, both as a sanctuary, for medical care, and as a vacation spot."

I'm not sure what scares me more - going to Iran for medical care or going to Iran for vacation. (shudder)

6:11 PM  
Blogger Muslihoon said...

Thank you, Major! Your answers were very enlightening: I very much appreciate them!

7:19 PM  
Blogger Major John said...

MQ - when you are coming from the Afghanistan torn by civil war, and not even remotely reovered from the Soviet fight, to Iran, it is a step up. The State of Iran is repressive as all get out - but a lot of her people are sophisticated, educated and friendly. The Tajiks got along with them just fine - and the Iranian state apparatus let them be because they were allies against the Pak/Saudi/Sunni extemist Talibs.
Crazy, ain't it?

7:29 PM  
Blogger Major John said...

Oh and muslihoon, thank you! I never seem to come up with good material until someone asks a good question or points something out to me.

7:30 PM  

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