News / Asia

Iran Looks to Deepen Ties to Afghanistan

Iran Looks to Deepen Ties to Afghanistani
December 19, 2013 8:54 PM
Amid a dispute with the United States over a long-term security deal, Afghanistan is pursuing closer ties with neighboring Iran. As VOA's Kokab Farshori reports, the diplomacy could signal an increasing regional role for Tehran in Afghan affairs after most international troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.
Iran Looks to Deepen Ties to Afghanistan
Kokab Farshori
Amid a dispute with the United States over a long-term security deal, Afghanistan is pursuing closer ties with neighboring Iran. The diplomacy could signal an increasing regional role for Tehran in Afghan affairs after most international troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.

When Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently visited Tehran, he received support for his delay in signing a security pact with the U.S. that would keep some American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

To some experts, the move shows that Kabul is willing to let its neighbors have a stake in regional security.

Thomas Lynch, an analyst for Washington’s National Defense University, said, "As we come into 2014, there is this approach to try to find a more regional solution to the problems of violence in this part of the world. And there is interest that the United States has in this, as well, as the Iranians and Afghans."

But some experts warn that, if Karzai fails to finalize a deal with the U.S. and all international troops leave next year, Afghanistan's neighbors could be more a hindrance than a help.

Ahmad Majidyar, with Washington’s American Enterprise Institute, said, "The Afghan government and the United States have not finalized the security agreement. And if all the U.S. and NATO troops leave, the danger is that the neighboring countries will have a more negative influence and try to use Afghanistan as a proxy battlefield the way they used [it] in the 1990s."

U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan would appear to please Tehran, which rejects a foreign presence in the region. But it could also pave the way for a return of the Taliban to power in Kabul. That, said analyst Lynch, would be a problem not only for Afghans, but also for Iran.

"Iran had a very bitter and difficult time when the Taliban were in control from 1996 to 2001. So it is pretty clear Iranians do not wish to see the return of the Taliban... much as they do not like to see the remnants of a strong American presence that could, if not directly attack them, perhaps monitor and encourage their own internal dissenters to do things they would not like to have done," said Lynch.

Last month Iran struck a deal with six world powers over possible curbs to its nuclear ambitions. Analyst Majidyar said what happens with Iran's nuclear program, however, should not influence policies toward Afghanistan.

"It is important for the United States and the world community to detach its Iran policy from Afghanistan because Afghanistan cannot afford to be a proxy battlefield between regional powers or world powers," said Majidyar. "There is a lot of common interest between Iran, the United States and Pakistan. So it is important for them that, despite other differences that they may have, [they] cooperate with each other on Afghanistan."

Negotiations are continuing between Mr. Karzai and the U.S. that Washington hopes will allow both a limited U.S. troop presence and improved relations between Kabul and its neighbors.

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Comment Sorting
by: Farid from: Kabul
December 21, 2013 12:18 AM
I don't know why President Karzai playing game with the people of Afghanistan, he is not authorized to just coming back and not signing the agreement between the US and Afghanistan, actually we as an Afghan don't believe in our neighbor both Iran and Pakistan, the both countries are just sending terorrist in our country we want peace as the same in the other countries, we need electronics, schools, educations, ect, these two countries destroyed our contry and now Mr. Karzai is looking to negotiate and sit to discuss with our neighbor while they bring poverty in our country. Pakistan is the big eveil in the region we are an independent country we have this authority to sign any pact with US, while US spent billion of dollar in Afghanistan we need to tie a very good relationship. but i am also recommending that US should not consider to Mr. President Karzai while he is the only person not assisting the Afghan people, US should consider what Afghan civilliance are looking for not any word from Karzai. Karzai is just thinking to support his brother and his team to win the coming election. This is the reason that he is blaming the US and saying we are not signing any pact with the US government.

by: Change Iran Now from: USA
December 20, 2013 8:27 PM
Iran's efforts to deepen its reach into Afghanistan are just more proof of Khamenei"s desire to turn Iran into a regional power though Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
December 20, 2013 11:29 AM
The Afghan President Hamid Karzai is playing with fire by delaying or not signing the security arrangement with the US for stationing some US troops after 2014. Why did Karzai call the Royal Jirga? Why Karzai did not accept the resolution passed by the Royal Jirga demanding Karzai to sign the security agreement immediately? The charm offensives of Iran and Pakistan will lead Afghanistan to Taliban rule. The Taliban will end up with all the heavy equipment and arms left by the US in Afghanistan, when the US troops exit Afghanistan. The US cannot take out billions of dollars worth of equipment that has to be abandoned while leaving Afghanistan.

One decade of sacrifices of the troops from US and other partners and trillion dollar spent will all end up in waste, just because of one unreliable Hamid Karzai. Did the US military go to Afghanistan with the permission of Ahmad Karzai? If not, is it necessary to get his permission for stationing a residual US troops? The question of permission from Karzai arose because of the unilateral announcement of US President Obama for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2014, as a political gimmick to win his election in the US.

If Obama did not mention the withdrawal date of US troops, none of these will have happened. It is the misjudgement of President Obama that ended up in this mess in Afghanistan. President Obama is trying to repair his mistake by requesting for stationing US troops beyond 2014. The miscalculation of President Obama and the demands of the unreliable Karzai will reinstate Taliban back to power soon after the US troops leaves Afghanistan. Both Obama and Karzai are equally responsible for the Afghan fiasco.

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