On September 12, 2001, as US military planners started examining the options they had t counter-attach against Al-Qaeda and its hosts in Afghanistan, they and their colleagues in the State Department rapidly realized that if they wanted to actually topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan they’d need the help of two key nearby powers: Iran and Russia– and to a lesser extent, India.
They got the help they needed from those regional actors, and went ahead with the invasion operation.
Now, eight years later, the US/NATO forces are still in Afghanistan. And those forces are in deep trouble there. (Osama Bin Laden, btw, is still at large.)
The 95,000 US/NATO forces in Afghanistan are already significantly dependent on Russia and Iran, to be able to maintain their presence in that craggy and distant land. If their commanders are to avert the many worse catastrophes that loom there, they will need even more help from both Russia and Iran.
That is part of the essential background to the decision the State Department announced yesterday, that the US will be participating in the meeting that the Tehran government proposed Wednesday, between Iran and the P5+1 group.
Dafna Linzer of ProPublica notes at that link,
- Iran reiterated many of its previous ideas for talks while scaling back specific requests made in previous proposals  (PDF). Among other things, Tehran called for an end to hostilities and for talks on issues of specific concern to Iran, such as drug trafficking and security in the Middle East. Unlike previous Iranian proposals, this one does not contain a litany of past grievances with the United States and does not assert an Iranian commitment to advancing its nuclear efforts.
On Friday, Russian PM Vladimir Putin expressed his country’s clear opposition to any further escalation of outside pressure (whether sanctions or military force) against Iran.
There is now confirmation from Tel Aviv that Israeli PM Netanyahu made a secret visit to Moscow shortly before Putin announced this decision. If, as we can assume, he discussed the Iran file while there, then evidently he failed to prevent Putin from making that clear decision against escalation.
The Israeli government and its many powerful and well-organized supporters inside the US have been vigorously campaigning for all non-Iranian powers– especially the western governments– to ratchet up the level of pressure they place on Iran.
Today in Israel, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who is also Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, gave an interview to Reuters in which he seemed somewhat seriously behind the curve, still arguing that Russia and China might get on board the anti-Israel campaign.
I doubt it. Maybe it’s time for Israel and its supporters in western countries to grow up and take a realistic look at the fact that within the world community that needs to make the decision on this matter they are in a very small minority.
And quite evidently, very few people– even in the strongly pro-Israeli United States– will be in a mood to forgive Israel if its actions towards Iran put at risk the lives of 60,000 US service members in Afghanistan.