Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Al-Qaeda-Iran Ties Weakening
by Asharq Al-Awsat
London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The fragile alliance of convenience said to exist between Iran and Al-Qaeda is beginning to fracture.
American officials quoted by the Washington Post speculate that the expulsion from Iran of the third Al-Qaeda member in under a year indicates a growing strain in the relationship, which has been characterized by mutual suspicion and deep ideological division.
The latest person to leave Iran, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the son-in-law of Osama Bin Laden, was expelled to his country of origin, Kuwait, earlier this year.
Kuwait refused to admit him, and he was arrested and taken to the US during a stopover in Amman, Jordan, while making another attempt to fly to Kuwait.
He is currently awaiting trial in New York, having spent the past few years under house arrest in Iran, where several other members of Al-Qaeda, including one of Osama Bin Laden’s wives and some of his children, fled following the American invasion of Afghanistan.
Some officials speculate that tensions between the group and its hosts have been stoked by the on-going Syrian civil war, in which Iran and Al-Qaeda back different sides. This is in addition to the existing tensions arising from Al-Qaeda’s sectarian bias against Shi’ites, and its support for the Taliban.
Iran and the Taliban government in Afghanistan came close to war in the late 1990s, following the death of several Iranian diplomats and a journalist based at the Iranian consulate in the Afghan city of Mazari Sharif at the hands of Taliban forces during the country’s civil war.
Nonetheless, some officials claim that the alliance still endures, as Iran seeks to maintain ties to the terrorist group as a future bargaining chip with the US and other western states, or a useful asset to retaliate against American attacks on Iran.
David Cohen, the US Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told the Washington Post: “We believe that Iran continues to allow Al-Qaeda to operate a network that moves Al-Qaeda money and fighters through Iran to support Al-Qaeda activities in South Asia.”
Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, Printed simultaneously on four continents in 14 cities.
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