The U.S. and Iran Are Headed for a New Proxy War in Afghanistan
While the United States military and the White House are girding for a confrontation with Iran on the high seas or in Iraq, Afghanistan is an even more likely battleground.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted last week, “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” The tweet followed the dangerous maneuvers on April 15 by Iranian naval vessels near U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf. The leader of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) promised a “crushing response” to any such action.
The incident and the threats that followed show that even if most of the world’s attention is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on both Iran and the United States, the symptoms of a war in the making grow stronger by the day.
Almost forgotten by the general public is the rocket attack on Camp Taji in Iraq last month that killed two American soldiers and one British serviceman. The camp hosts anti-ISIS coalition troops and NATO personnel. On the ground, the U.S retaliatory strikes against weapons storage sites in Iraq belonging to the pro-Iranian militia Kata’ib Hezbollah kept the war-fever high.
On April 1, Trump said Iran was planning to attack American troops in Iraq.
Upon information and belief,” he tweeted, echoing FBI legalese, “Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!”
But Americans are even more vulnerable in Afghanistan, and it is likely to be the favored theater for Iran’s proxy attacks on U.S. personnel for several reasons.
One of the first is that the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, General Ismail Qaani, has experience there dating back almost a quarter of a century