Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

US-Iran Rivalry and Afghan Government’s Silence

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US-Iran Rivalry and Afghan Government’s Silence

More than three decades of burning conflict, entrenched opium production, drugs addiction and trafficking, deep-rooted corruption, severest political and economic instability and lack of social justice have turned Afghanistan to resemble a hell. The lingering instability in the country has made almost all Afghans analyzers of political issues go dubious. It is now evident even to a layman that Afghanistan is under the thumb of foreign forces and foreign countries are largely responsible for the evil fate they are trapped in since long.

At times when certain countries are pursuing goals of development and reconstruction in Afghanistan under the banner 'international community,' there are also nations that have taken oath to stand as concrete obstacles to the process of rebuilding of Afghanistan.

Most of the Afghans are of the view that their country is being impacted by the negativities of Pak-Indo and US-Iran relations. And that is true. They firmly believe that the intelligence agencies of these countries are highly active in Afghanistan and that Afghanistan has been battlefield for intelligence agencies.

Being strategically important, Afghanistan continues to suffer and it is believed that the international and regional powers would go on pulling Afghanistan towards different directions. This fact has deeply affected the mentality of Afghans towards their and foreign countries. To them, due to meddling of various countries, Afghanistan past, present and future are all gloomy.

Although there are rivalries among nations involved in Afghanistan directly or indirectly, two countries – the US and Iran – have appeared as strong rivals on Afghanistan since Taliban government was toppled in 2001. This is largely because of the continued traditional disagreements between the two nations after the Islamic revolution in Iran. The disputes between Iran and the US have affected the situation in Afghanistan quite negatively.

The US government, under ex US President George Bush, launched wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and two years later in Iraq. During his second term of presidency, Bush administration quite often talked of possibility of attack on Iran too, because of Iran's disputed nuclear program.

When you talk of an attack, it means you have an enmity but it was difficult for the US to launch any sort of military attacks against Iran, as it was already having tough time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under President Obama's administration, the US government seems to have given up talking about possibility of attack on Iran. Nonetheless, strict economic bans have been imposed in order to compel Iran to give up its nuclear program.

On the other hand, Iran not only considers uranium enrichment as its right but also maintains the presence of US plus other foreign forces as futile for peace and prosperity here. Should Iran's this idea be considered factual? If yes, then why should India, Pakistan and the high government authorities and politicians of US, UK and other European countries conceive the presence of international troops as 'vital' for stability in Afghanistan? It is crystal clear that Iran is unhappy and has some secret and some open concerns because of the US presence in the region.

Iran leaves no opportunity to show its opposition towards Western presence in Afghanistan and speaks out some strict statements against the US almost every day. Iran, beyond any doubt, is against all kinds of US interests – be it international or regional. At the same the Islamic Republic of Iran has tried to maintain good relations with the rivals of US.

The Iranian government has been accused of playing double-game in Afghanistan. On one hand, Iran seemingly supports the international communities' involvement in Afghanistan while on the other it secretly gives hand to insurgents.

Iran has gone approving financial aids for reconstruction of Afghanistan which the US thinks are efforts just to conceal what they do on the other side of the picture.

Meanwhile, the government of Afghanistan has never had some strong words against Iran despite it has been interfering in the internal issues of Afghanistan from time to time. This may be just because the government of Hamid Karzai does not want to annoy Iran. The enmity of Iran towards US and vice versa, according to Afghans, is having negative impacts on peace and prosperity of Afghanistan, thought their government is silent.

The game of accusations between Iran and the US continues. But Afghan government is trying to keep the relations with both Iran and the US as smooth as possible. Between these two rivals, Afghanistan has shown neutrality.

If it wants long term US engagement in Afghanistan and supports all the US policies for bringing peace in Afghanistan, it also regards Iran as brotherly country praising Iran's efforts being to put to reconstruct Afghanistan.

Despite Iran is vastly accused of giving hands to militants Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called Iran a "helpful brother and partner to Afghanistan." This clearly explains the sincerity that Afghan government is having towards Iran. Also President Hamid Karzai has maintained that Afghanistan territory would not be used against any one of its neighbors.

Afghanistan would need support both from US and its close neighbors for its peace and prosperity. The US is already involved in rooting out terrorism here but has announced to completely withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

In post US era, Afghanistan needs the support of international community, especially of its neighbors to improve its security, infra-structure and economy. The roles of countries like Iran and Pakistan are of high importance in this regard. So Afghanistan is not in favor of cutting down or even weakening its relations with Iran because of the unsolved problems between Iran and the US.

Mohd. Ahsan is permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafg hanistan@gmail.com

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