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Iran Capitalises On Central Asian Vacuum Created By The Ukraine War

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Iran Capitalises On Central Asian Vacuum Created By The Ukraine War

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Written by James M. Dorsey

Anti-Iranian protests in Afghanistan and the stabbing of three clerics in Iran threaten to cast a shadow over Iranian efforts to capitalise on the fallout in Central Asia of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The protests at Iran’s diplomatic representations in Kabul and Herat erupted after videos went viral on social media allegedly showing police beating Afghan refugees in Iran.

Shouting “Mag bar Iran” (Death to Iran), protesters set the Herat consulate’s door on fire and destroyed security cameras.

Iranian and Taliban officials sought to downplay the incident. They said ‘rogue elements’ and forces seeking to stoke unrest had staged the protests.

The protests erupted almost a week after two Iranian Shiite clerics were killed and a third injured in the conservative religious stronghold of Mashhad in a knife attack by an allegedly Afghan Salafi immigrant. The attack occurred at the shrine of Ali Al-Ridha, the eighth Shiite imam.

The incidents cast a shadow over efforts by Iran to exploit geopolitical opportunity that initially emerged with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August of last year and has potentially been significantly enhanced by Russia becoming bogged down in the Ukraine war.

The Ukraine conflict means that Russia is less focused on Central Asia. It also casts a shadow over Russian security guarantees for Central Asian states, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, that are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

And it casts a different light on past statements about Kazakhstan by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In January, the Kazakh government asked the CSTO to help end mass anti-government protests.

Russian and other CSTO troops have since left the Central Asian state, but statements by Mr. Putin made weeks before the intervention linger.

Using language reminiscent of his pre-war references to Ukraine designed to lay the groundwork for an invasion, Mr. Putin told a news conference in December that “Kazakhstan is a Russian-speaking country in the full sense of the word.”

At the time of the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Mr. Putin asserted that then Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era Communist party boss, had “performed a unique feat: he has created a state on a territory where there has never been a state. The Kazakhs never had a state of their own, and he created it.”

Mr. Putin went on to say that Kazakh membership of the five-nation, post-Soviet Eurasian Economic Union “helps them stay within the so-called ‘greater Russian world,’ which is part of world civilization.”

Central Asian states have been careful not to condemn the Russian invasion. Still, they have reportedly rebuffed Mr. Putin’s request that they recognize Donetsk and Luhansk, the two breakaway Russian-backed Ukrainian regions.

Beyond geography and Russia’s security presence in the region, Central Asians need to consider close economic ties with Russia, including the flow of remittances by Central Asian migrant workers that have taken a significant hit because of the Ukraine conflict.

In that environment, Iran, particularly if a revival of the 2015 international nuclear agreement lifts US sanctions, has much to offer landlocked Central Asia.

US and Iranian negotiators are near a make-or-break point on resurrecting the agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program but was thrown into disarray after former US President Donald J. Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018.

Iran believes that its opportunity in Central Asia is enhanced because it offers one of the few alternatives to a full embrace by China in the absence of Russia and the United States.

Like much of the rest of the world, Iran has refused to formally recognise the Taliban government as long as it does not demonstrate inclusivity.

Nevertheless, trade with Afghanistan, which hosts multiple land routes to landlocked Central Asia, remains brisk at approximately USD$2.9 billion a year.

Moreover, Iran is discussing with the Taliban the revival of an ambitious rail project that would initially connect Herat to Khaf in north-eastern Iran but ultimately be extended to connect five Central Asian countries.

“This rail line can also link Afghanistan with Iran’s southern ports,” said an Iranian transport official.

The project is part of a proposed US $2bn Five Nations Railway Corridor (FNRC) which would run 2,000 kilometres from China through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.

The project takes on added significance as US and European sanctions against Russia dash Russian, Iranian and Indian hopes for a North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) that would link India to Afghanistan, Central Asia, Russia, and Europe through Iranian ports.

Iranian and Indian were touting the corridor before the Ukraine

invasion as a viable alternative to Egypt’s Suez Canal and an addition to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

In the past year, Iran has also increased military and security cooperation with Central Asian states. Last year, Iran and Tajikistan established a joint military committee that will focus on counterterrorism.

Afghanistan’s neighbours – China, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – gathered in Tehran in October to discuss containing the security fallout of the Taliban takeover in Kabul.

Despite taking advantage of Russia’s self-inflicted predicament, Iran will want to retain good relations with Moscow even if the nuclear agreement is resurrected and US sanctions are lifted.

Iran has no guarantee that the accord will remain in place if US President Joe Biden loses control of Congress in this year’s mid-term elections or a Republican, possibly Mr. Trump, wins the 2024 presidential election.

“Manoeuvring in Central Asia makes eminent sense for Iran. However, that will not please multiple players. Iran, therefore, needs to ensure that it doesn’t close any doors as it fiddles in backyards that everyone is interested in,” said a Western official.

To watch a video version of this story please click here.

A podcast version is available on SoundcloudItunesSpotifyStitcherTuneInSpreakerPocket CastsTumblr, Podbean, Audecibel, Patreon, and Castbox.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist and scholar, a Senior Fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and Adjunct Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and the author of the syndicated column and blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.


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The beating of refugees is fake I heard, another false flag to make Iran look bad

Ashok Varma

Iran use to be number propaganda and disinformation target of Anglo-Zionist racist criminals, now unfortunately Russia has achieved the top position. But historically Persians like Russians are very tough stoic people of the steppes and don’t give a damn. Ayatollah Khamenei has made it clear that Iran will stand by Russia, no matter what.

The three main recent focal targets of western and NATO racist imperialists and Zionist parasites:

1. Gold medal target of Anglo-Russian lies, propaganda and fabrications RUSSIAN FEDERATION

2. Silver medal target of long time disinformation campaign by Anglo-Zionism , ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN.

3. Broze medal for up and down Sinophobia in western media goes to PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, but sure gold spot after the Ukraine operation is over.

Richard Hoard


Chris Gr

Iran supports terrorists.


which ones?

Chris Gr

Taliban, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Islamic Salvation Front, Sadrists.


And iranianian clerics killed by SALAFI. Looks a lot like the tactics employed by a certain apartheid mini-State.


James M. Dorsey… No one here read his shit, most likely because it is shit.

The US under Trump sent refugees to jails and even kids. The EU for years now paying Turk-isis-stan to don’t let refugees enter the EU.

When you start comparing what others do…yeah Iran isn’t bad at all, again it is not perfect but still above other countries who act only.

SF you fuks are apes, James M. Dorsey “He served as a foreign correspondent for Dutch newspaper Trouw, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times, The Christian Science Monitor and Dutch and Belgian radio and television.” If SF morons would have read his shit they would also understand the fuker is part of Zion pig MSM – he fuking worked for them ffs.

Here is the thing that pisses me off the most – SF knows this fully but they trying to act like they also post Zion pigs MSM here as well for those fuking Neo-Nazis, Wahhabis, Turk-isis, Kurd-zion, and Zion here…

*********Trouw, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times = Hey, SF did you apes say they all are West MSM? But you fuking apes are okay to post his guy shit tho? That worked there and only reported what the West MSM wanted him to say?

A Fellow

Which part of the article do you specifically have a problem with?


I dislike the person who wrote the article mainly – look this guy up yourself. I’m not going to repeat what others have said here – read Garga’s comment.


A Fellow, let me tell you one thing – if you see the time of g0ys use his shit … what do you think about him? When was the last time this fuking clown wrote anything against Zion? Zion are the main problem in the region.

Here: “Israel’s Ukraine conundrum may have implications for Gulf states” From: Times of Israel – APR 19, 2022, 7:44 PM https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/james-m-dorsey/

James M. Dorsey is Zion Slave pig.

The times of g0ys used this fuking monkey? The Zion. I said it before and I say it again – SF apes ONLY post this guy shit because he pleases Zion and Wahhabis, believe it or not, SF does get money from those two groups.

Chris Gr

Iran has supported Turkish, Kurdish and Afghan Islamists.


Cry bitch, cry…

Chris Gr

I am laughing actually at your idiocy.

Chris Gr

If Iran is good then it should leave its alliances with Turkey, Pakistan, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.


lol…..doc, you totally missing at press tv. Love your off the cuff remarks…..lol. Have you noticed how Iran’s slowly turned all them regional toady into low cost/ low maintenance jende?…….lol

Chris Gr

Iran also supported Morsi and Bashir.

Ashok Varma

The Persians are very good and reliable people and proved to be much better friends and allies of Russia, than India unfortunately thanks to the CIA puppet Modi. Iran voted with Russia and 22 nations in every UN circus resolution. The Zionists allied with their US colony meanwhile voted against Russia, are supplying arms to their Jew puppet clown coward Zelensky and actively killing Russians. Now Russia who its true and battle tested friends. RUSSI-IRANI ZINDABAD! (Long like Russians and Persians). JAI RUS-JAI IRAN!

Chris Gr

Do you know that Iran supports the Kashmiri jihadis?

Arch Bungle

CIA and Mossad instigated issues.

Omas Bioladen

So NATO bombs Afghanistan for 20 years and flees in a hurry with people falling backwards out of their planes and the some Salafi immigrant stabs an Iranian cleric which casts a shodow over Russian scurity guarantees for Khasachstan ?? I find this article a bit crazy.


𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐠𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 $𝟐𝟕𝟒𝟖𝟓 𝐭𝐨 $𝟐𝟗𝟔𝟓𝟖 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐭 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐛 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞. 𝐈 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝟐 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐬 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝 $𝟑𝟏𝟓𝟒𝟕 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. 𝐈 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐚𝐲 𝐦𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐲! 𝐓𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐝𝐨…….http://foxnews7.tk/

Last edited 5 months ago by elizabethfrankms0

It’s Russia that has been an unreliable partner to her actual allies, not the other way around. Look what years of appeasing IsraHell has bought Russia – a backstab after backstab.


It’s the USA that has been an unreliable partner to her actual allies, not the other way around. Look what years of appeasing IsraHell has bought the yanquis – a backstab after backstab.


Did Russia say they are going to fight Zion in Syria? Did Russia just leave Syria in the middle of the night like the US in Afghanistan? Does Russia sanction every country when they disagree with each other on different matters? Does Russia’s regime change like the US? look at Pakistan – was it Russia? Does Russia force its allies to obey them, like the US?

Dose Russia go around and invade poor/unstable countries?

“a backstab after backstab.” = That’s what the US did in Afghanistan.


I saw the title and got intrigued but as soon as I saw the writer’s name just skipped the article altogether. From the comments I gather one of the talking points is about the stabbing attack in the holy shrine of Imam Reza. It wasn’t the first of such provocations and it won’t be last. The giveaway [of provocation] is the instant rise in social media posts from a very loud but small group of accounts both from Afghanistani users as well as Iranian ones.

First, I think now after almost a year it is safe to say one of the main reasons for hasty and heroic withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan was to trap Iran into getting involved militarily in Afghanistan (the American weapons remained to make sure of a good fighting chance for them against us). Then there was a heavy push from outside (Afghanistan and anti-Iran Persian speakers living off western governments in Europe and north America) and from within Iran, even from people involved in the government to invade Afghanistan and for the first time in history of post-1979 Iran we heard phrases like “Iranian civilizational territory” and “our Aryan/racial brothers and sisters” from the said people, the very ones who were vehemently opposed in helping Syria and Iraq against Daesh and other takfiri groups. For Syria and Iraq, we pointed out (in addition to our national security and the need to stop Daesh there in order to not fight it inside Iran) that Iraq and Syria are Iran’s former lands (for crying outloud, Baghdad is Ctesiphon), we share the same DNA and Euphrates used to be our western borders only to hear there’s no Iranian civilization anymore and the era has passed and there’s only one human race, Imagine our surprise. There was a heavy campaign to help Ahmad Masoud and even we had some border clashes but talking with Taliban authorities quickly defused the situation. But more importantly, thank god for having Ayatollah Khamenei as the ultimate decision-maker.

Anyway it didn’t work and we started a close cooperation with other neighbours (specially including Imran Khan and China) to stabilize Afghanistan. Now and then there were other provocations (even as stupid as this one: There’s a river, Hirmand, flowing from Afghanistan into Iran. So the water comes to Iran, not the other way around. They found 3 bodies inside Afghanistan in the river and claimed our border guards killed them and dumped them in the Hirmand and bodies washed away into Afghanistan, against the flow!). Now they publish a lot of pics depicting the torture that we inflict upon Afghanistani refugees, pictures of slashed bodies and whatnot. Each and every time a select group of Afghanis attacked our consulates and embassy (all known, pictures taken and identified, Most used to cooperate with Americans). Only this time a much larger group of different people in Kabul came to our embassy, gave our boys flowers and sweets and recited poems and thanked us and told us they’ll no longer fall for such provocations. A few days later we had the stabbing incident in the shrine with immediate push from both inside and outside to punish Afghanistan. A large group of migrant Afghanistanis attended the funerals and things got a bit calm, until the next one.

There are about 5,000,000 refugees and migrants from Afghanistan and about 1,000,000 from Iraq currently in Iran. That’s a serious national security issue needed to act delicately upon. They can only return if their country is stable and on the way to prosperity. Taliban authorities are serious to stabilize their country and seek investment from Iran and China. There was some talks about mining, I’ll let you know if it gets serious enough. But the Empire doesn’t sleep. By getting rid of Imran Khan, Pakistan attacked Afghanistan.

——————————– It was just to give you a picture. It’s good to be back, hi everyone! We might hear funny news from a certain stolen property on the east coast of the Med soon. Our guy will be back, my prayers made sure of it… ;)

Rant My my, trolls reign supreme the board now. Frankly with so much feeding why should they not? Amazing that a 4-word sentence from known trolls triggers scores of replies. Ukraine/Russia treads became so unreadable. /End of Rant

Last edited 5 months ago by Garga
Chris Gr

Yeah but do you see this thing? Your country supports the Taliban. Iran was supposedly against radical Sunnis. However, they support Erdogan, Morsi, Bashir, Taliban, Qatar and other radical factions, both Shia and Sunni, they even supported the Somali Al Shabaab at once. Iran will be one of the main dangers of Europe in the last times.


The author sounds clueless, first he makes the false assumption that Iran and Russia are acting independently without considering each other’s interests, and second he is too clueless to know that southern central Asia is historic Iranian land. In fact southern central Asia (including most of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and all of Tajikistan) have been part of Iran longer than the entire existence of Russia as a nation. Huge percentage of the populations in these regions still speak Persian and have Iranian blood. All major city names are in Persian, and the dominant culture of these regions are Iranian.

All Iranian patriots and nationalists recognize Ukraine and Belarus to be part of the Russian world and support Russia’s military operation in these regions. For the same reason we expect our Russian friends to recognize southern central Asia to be an inseparable part of the Iranian world. Just because Russia briefly occupied these regions at a time in history when Iran was in decline does not mean these regions are permanently part of Russia’s backyard or worse part of the Russian world. The sooner our Russian friends recognize these facts the faster will our alliance become permanent and long lasting. Going down the colonial path of attempting to claim historic Iranian land as belonging to Russia or to Russia’s exclusive sphere of influence will never be acceptable to any Iranian and will prevent our current friendly relations from advancing to the next step. This does not include Kazakhstan so if Russia wants to view Kazakhstan as a Russian sphere of influence or even Russian land we have no problems with that.

I hear more and more high ranking and influential voices coming from Russia recognizing these facts, which is a step in the right direction but for those who still hold on to the 19th century colonial view of seeing Iran as some sort of backwater to be occupied and bullied at will and Iran’s historic territories as part of the “Russian World” I simply say this, all Iranians regardless of their political view see and recognize southern central Asia as part of Iran, we are all ready to sacrifice our lives to return our ancestral lands back to the mother lands and we will hold this view even if we have to wait 1000 years to achieve it. 21st century Iran is no longer the weak and backward Iran of the 18th century.We view any nation attempting to claim historical Iranian lands as permanently part of their territory or sphere of influence as a hostile and genocidal anti-Iranian nation.

Last edited 5 months ago by Iranian

You would be surprised to know where he used to work.

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