Leader Development & Education for Sustained Peace Program: Cross-Cultural, Geopolitical & Regional Education

How Would a Preemptive Attack on Iran by Israel Affect our Relations with Afghans?

Dr. Michael Rubin offered his expert opinion on a LDESP student’s question regarding Afghanistan and a preemptive Israeli attack on Iran. Rubin formerly worked as a Pentagon official handling Iranian affairs. As a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, his major research area is the Middle East, with a special focus on Iran, Syria, Arab Politics, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Turkey. He is also a Senior Lecturer for LDESP.

Questions: Significant speculation has mounted lately that a preemptive attack on Iran by Israel is increasingly likely sometime during the 2nd half of this year. How would such an attack affect our relations with the Afghans? Could we expect significant public outrage towards ISAF forces? Additionally, do the Iranians have the capability to strike our bases in Afghanistan with accuracy and lethality?

  • I would not expect sustained public outrage at ISAF forces in the event of an Israeli strike. Prior both to Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom, there was a great deal of punditry about the popular outrage which impact the Islamic world in the case of an attack on an Islamic country. In each case, there were a few protests, but they petered out after a few days and did not come anywhere close to meeting the predictions prior to the invasions.
  • That said, the Iranian-backed media would try to draw linkages between the Israelis and Americans. That conflict may be too distant for Afghans really to care too much about, however.
  • I would, however, suspect that Iranians would respond via proxy against ISAF troops in Afghanistan. The problems encountered in this scenario would not be spontaneous anger, but pre-planned.  On this, the Iranians do have the capability to strike at bases in Afghanistan with accuracy and lethality.


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