Much has been said about the United States' "zero option" when it comes to its future presence in Afghanistan. But a rushed trip to Iran by the Afghan president to discuss a long-term partnership agreement shows that Kabul is considering its own options.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed on a cooperation pact with Iran on Sunday, an Afghan official said, while continuing to resist signing a long-term security agreement with the United States.
Rouhani reinforced to Karzai. "All foreign troops should be withdrawn from the region," he posted on his official Twitter account. "(The) security of Afghanistan should be entrusted to the Afghan people."
Iran has long opposed NATO's presence in Afghanistan and is the only country to have asked Karzai not to sign the agreement
The Pentagon released a rare public report last June noting significant advances in Iranian missile technology, acknowledging that the Islamic Republic has improved the accuracy and firing capabilities of its missiles.
"The inaccuracy of (our) ballistic long-range missiles in hitting targets is so minimal that we can pinpoint targets. The accuracy of surface-to-surface missiles is now two meters, while at some stage in the past it was 200 meters. We strive to reach zero inaccuracy,"
Iran has a variety of missiles, some with a reported range of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), enough to reach much of the Middle East. Military commanders have described them as a strategic asset and a strong deterrent, capable of hitting U.S. bases or Israel in the event of a strike on Iran.
Commanders said Iran's capability of firing multiple missiles within seconds is another technological achievement by Iran's military. They say this would create a challenge for the U.S. or Israel to intercept incoming missiles should a war break out.
Iran unveiled several underground missile silos in 2011. Revolutionary Guard commanders say the medium- and long-range missiles stored in them are ready to launch in case of an attack on Iran. Such sites are harder to detect and can arm faster than missiles outdoors.
Iran considers both the United States and Israel as potential adversaries. Neither country has ruled out a military strike against Iran's nuclear program, which they say could have a military dimension. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes.
Israel is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) away from Iran's western borders, while the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, some 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Iranian shores in the Persian Gulf.
Iran's military leaders have said Israel would "disappear from the Earth" if it attacks Iran. Guard commanders have also warned that at least 35 American military bases in the Middle East are within Iran's missile range and would be destroyed within seconds after any U.S. attack on Iran.
Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, it has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, torpedoes, drones and fighter planes.
Iran's military leaders believe future wars will be air- and sea-based. Tehran has sought to upgrade its missile and air defense systems as well as naval power in anticipation of such a possibility.
“You see that those powers which were thinking of destroying Iran’s enrichment capability, have now admitted that they cannot stop Iran's industrial progress and enrichment due to the indigenization of this industry and its expansion,”
President Obama will, no doubt, continue to insist—as he did with Haim Saban at the annual Saban Forum on U.S.-Israel relations—that the next six months are a test to see if Iran is serious about negotiating a comprehensive nuclear settlement. But the real test is for Obama, his administration, and the rest of America’s political order.
To answer the question is more than just a useful exercise. Significant global consequences turn on the answer.
The Damascus-Beirut highway is now wholely under Hizballah control, providing its Beirut headquarters vitally direct access to the forces posted to Damascus, and easing liaison and communications among Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah military units in the field.
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We’ve watched our country sputter and fail at home and abroad, and the truth is undeniable: We haven't learned from, admitted, or understood our mistakes, and we aren't on a better track now than we were on September 10, 2001. That's the opposite of progress.
Our effort to remake Iraq into a peaceful, pluralistic democracy, friendly to the U.S. and its interests, failed, Iraq itself now a failed state (the 11th most failed), Afghanistan, the 7th most failed state, which could very well fall again to the Taliban again once we leave.