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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09KABUL66 2009-01-13 08:43:00 SECRET Embassy Kabul
Cable title:  

LOCAL VIEWS ON THE IRANIAN CONSULATE IN JALALABAD

Tags:   PGOV PREL PINR AF 
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VZCZCXRO5362
OO RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #0066/01 0130843
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 130843Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6679
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000066 

SIPDIS

KABUL FOR USFOR-A COS,
DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS USAID FOR ASIA/SCAA
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CG CJTF-101 POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR AF
SUBJECT: LOCAL VIEWS ON THE IRANIAN CONSULATE IN JALALABAD

Classified By: PRT Director Valerie C. Fowler for reasons 1.4 (b) and (
d)

Summary
--------



1. (S) Since Iran re-opened its Jalalabad Consulate in March
2008, Iranian Consul Mihran Khurasanie has been active in
establishing contacts with some Nangarharis, in an attempt to
build Iranian influence in the mostly Pashtun region,
according to local leaders and officials. While most
influential Nangarhar officials, tribal leaders, and notables
agree that the
traditional Pashtun mistrust of Iran makes its attempts to
gain influence in the province difficult, the Iranian
Consul,s largesse with cash and other enticements appears to
be having some success. Khurasanie appears to be building a
contact base by handing out cash and scholarships, hosting
lavish dinners and offering all-expense-paid trips to Iran.

IRANIAN "CONSUL"


--------------------------





2. (S) The Iranians operated a consulate in Jalalabad during
the first Mujahidin government until the viruently anti-Iran
Taliban regime came to power. Khurasanie reportedly served
as a security officer at the Jalalabad consulate before it
was closed by the Taliban. Our contacts tell us they take it
as common knowledge that Khurasanie is in fact an Iranian
intelligence agent tasked with increasing Iran,s influence
among the Pashtun community.



3. (S) Many Pashtuns in Nangarhar were nonplussed when the
Iranian Consulate in Jalalabad re-opened in early 2008,
Provincial Council Chair Fazal Hadi Muslimyar told us.
"There was no reason for it. There are very few shias in
Nangarhar and we do not share a border with Iran."
Muslimyar, as well as every other contact with whom we spoke,
attributed the re-opening to lobbying by the United Front --
still often referred to among local Pashtuns as the Northern
Alliance -- which worked with Iran in the 1990s against the
Taliban regime. Muslimyar spoke out publicly against the
re-opening of the Iranian Consulate, but feels the issue
never resonated strongly enough among Pashtuns to keep it
closed. "We don,t necessarily hate the Iranians, and
perhaps some Iranian investment would help us, but from a
historical point of view, we have always been suspicious of
their motives." He added that the Iranian-Taliban dispute in
the 1990s was often seen locally as an Iranian-Pashtun
dispute. And Iran,s traditional support for the Hazara
community in Afghanistan plays to historic Pashtun prejudices.

ELECTION TRACTION


--------------------------





4. (S) Iran looks to Nangarhar and sees a relatively
successful and affluent province within the Pashtun belt,
Jalalabad Mayor Lal Agha Kaker said. "Iran wants to expand
its influence in the region by building a list of regular
contacts," he told us. "They also want to help these
contacts attain positions within the provincial government in
upcoming elections." Iran is also trying to develop a
relationship with tribes in Nangarhar, tapping into tribal
ties which reach across the border into Pakistan, said Babrak
Shinwari, member of Parliament and prominent member of the
Shinwari tribe from Achin district. (Shinwari was a minister
of Tribal Affairs under the communist regime.) Dr. Ayoub
Sharafat, Nangarhar,s Director for the Ministry of Tribal
Affairs, also said the Iranian Consul has been active in
reaching out to tribal elders in the province.

DISCREDIT THE U.S.


--------------------------





5. (S) Kurasanie is also working hard to discredit the U.S.,
Kaker said. Kaker and others told us that Kurasanie is
spreading the word that the United States. is simply trying
to dominate the country and is not serious about building a
sustainable Afghanistan. "He is telling people that this is
the reason the U.S. is not building any long-term projects,
such as hydro-electric dams, which would allow Afghanistan to
stand on its own," Kaker told us. Some people in Nangarhar
believe these stories, he said.

THE GREAT PASHTUN WEAKNESS


--------------------------



KABUL 00000066 002 OF 002





6. (S) Aman Ullah Hamidzai, a naturalized U.S. citizen who
returned to Jalalabad to serve as Nangarhar University
Chancellor, described how he has been courted by Kurasanie.
The Iranian Consul invited Hamidzai to several lavish dinners
and offered scholarship packages for local students to attend
classes in Iran. He has also offered funding for the
university. Kurasanie has visited Nangarhar University on
several occasions, trying to build relationships with
students organizations. Hamdizai said
he has not turned Iranian offers away, but that he is opposed
to Iranian policy and would not be influenced by Kurasanie.
Hamdzai describes Kurasanie,s method of leverage as simple
and effective: "Pashtuns can stand up against the bullets of
invading armies and bring down tyrants, but they cannot
resist money."

COMMENT


--------------------------





7. (S) Most of those with whom we spoke said the Iranian
Consul will have a difficult job building strong and lasting
influence in Nangarhar, or within the region, because of the
historic Pashtun ambivalence toward Iran. But that same
ambivalence has allowed Iran to re-establish a consulate in
Jalalabad with little protest from the community.
Nevertheless, all agreed that the Iranian Consul has made
some inroads in developing contacts in the province. Haji
Zalmai, District Administrator of Mohmand Dara, located near
the entrance of the Khyber Pass at the Pakistani border,
summed up local attitudes toward possible Iranian influence:
"We don,t like Iran because of our past history, but many
Pashtuns here might be inclined to reconsider if they are
convinced that they have something to gain from the
relationship."
WOOD