The Alliance Between Iran and Al Qaeda

A very interesting article by Foreign Affairs, about the limited alliance between Iran and Al Qaeda, titled “Al Qaeda in Iran: Why Tehran is Accommodating the Terrorist Group”, January 2012. Al Qaeda is a Saudi terrorist organization, which was created by Osama bin Laden in 1988, and it is very hostile towards the US and the Saudi leadership. It is the organization responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attack (Twin Towers).

It can be assumed that Osama bin Laden was funded by business centers which wanted a closer cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China, and which believed that the US military presence in Saudi Arabia was a big constraint towards this end. And it is true that the Saudi-American relations allowed the Iranians to have a closer cooperation with China. One of the main requests of Osama bin Laden was for the US military to leave Saudi Arabia. And indeed, immediately after the 9/11 attack, the US military bases were transferred from Saudi Arabia to Qatar, which was more than happy to host them, as a shield against the Saudis and the Iranians. However Saudi Arabia paid a very high price for that, because the Americans reduced their backing for the Saudis in many aspects of their foreign policy.

Moreover we can assume that Osama bin Laden was funded by Saudis who wanted to prevent the flow of the Kazakh oil and Turkmen natural gas to India and the Indian Ocean. From 1996 Afghanistan was the base of Osama bin Landen.

Map 1

Al Qaeda Iran

The Foreign Affairs article mentions that Iran and Al Qaeda are opponents, and this has been more than obvious in Iraq, but they have a common hatred for the US. I must add that the TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), promoted by the US and India, hurts both the Iranian and Arab interests. The article refers to Al Qaeda’s bases in Iran, and says that the Iranians do not allow members of Al Qaeda to move freely within Iran. However, according to Foreign Affairs, it is much harder for the US to attack Al Qaeda’s bases in Iran, compared to the ones in Iraq, Pakistan or Yemen.

In the 10th paragraph the article says that the Iran-Al Qaeda limited alliance seems odd, but it can be explained by their common hatred for the US, the Saudi leadership and Israel. Moreover the Al Qaeda presence in Iran is a guarantee for the Iranians that Al Qaeda will not carry out any attacks within Iran. For Al Qaeda the Iranian bases are its safest bases, since it is very difficult for the US to attack them. The article says that if the US-Iranian relations further deteriorate, the Iran-Al Qaeda ones will become even better. However the article was written in 2012, and the relations between Iran and the US significantly improved, and therefore it can be assumed that the ones between Iran and Al Qaeda became more difficult.

For the Foreign Affairs article see

“Al Qaeda in Iran: Why Tehran is Accommodating the Terrorist Group”, του Ιανουαρίου 2012

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