Kabul struggling with balance in regional ties
KABUL (Pajhwok): A number of political experts believe it is hard for Afghanistan to keep balance in relations with other countries but say that it is vital for Kabul to keep cordial ties with all neighbours.
Afghanistan has encountering with ups and downs in its relations with Iran during the past 14 years. Presence of foreign forces specifically US forces and signing Bilateral Security Agreement with America have created concerns in Iran.
However, former president Hamid Karzai managed to keep good relations with neighbor countries and the west during his rule.
After the national unity government sworn-in, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani traveled three times to Saudi Arabia for promoting the slow-moving Afghan peace process with the Taliban.
The president has recently announced to support Saudi Arabia on Yemen issue that experts believe Afghanistan’s stance about Yemen could create tensions with Iran.
After the Houthi rebel group downed the Yemen government last month, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition of 10 other Islamic countries and started operations against the rebels. Saudi Arabia officials said the fight would continue until the legal government was installed in Yemen.
Iranian government is accused of supporting the Houthi group against Yemen government.
A political expert Wahid Muzhdah told Pajhwok Afghan News that Afghanistan’s support for Saudi Arabia on Yemen conflict had left negative impact on ties with Iran. He believed the president was struggling to forge ties with Iran.
Muzhdah said that Ghani’s visit to Tehran could yield positive results as the issue of emergence of Islamic State group in Afghanistan was posing a sort of threat for both the countries.
The agreements that Ghani had signed with the Iranian government could leave positive impact on both countries relations, he believed.
President Ghani on the head of a high-level delegation on Sunday traveled to Tehran and was warmly welcomed by Iranian officials.
Afghanistan and Iran leaders discussed on strengthening bilateral relations in protecting mutual interests and standing together against terrorism threats and narcotics trafficking.
Afghan and Iranian officials also signed two agreements on countering terrorism and drug production.
Muzhda said that Kabul had repeatedly assured Tehran that improving relations with Saudi Arabia and the west would not damage its relations with Tehran. But he added it was hard for Tehran to believe Kabul in this regard.
“The incumbent government is incomplete and people believe it is weaker than Karzai’s government. I don’t think Iran will believe Ghani’s words because of serious differences among the country’s leaders,” he said.
In the current situation, it is difficult for Afghanistan to keep balance in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, he said.
A number of other experts believe that Afghanistan and Iran must improve their ties because both the countries need to protect their mutual interests by standing together.
Abadul Rauf Jamal, a political analyst, said besides trade both countries needed to work jointly on security related threats which would ensure peace and stability in the region.
The presence of Islamic State (IS) and other extremist groups was posing a new threat to the security of both countries and there was need for a joint strategy.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian spiritual leader, during his meeting with President Ghani said his country was feeling insecure because of incidents in Afghanistan.
He added a developed and prosperous Afghanistan was in the interest of the region and Iran. The spiritual leader urged more cooperation in bilateral relations. Iran had earlier expressed deep concerns over the presence of (IS) in Afghanistan.
Terrorists posed huge threat to both the countries, Ghani adding that the rumours of IS presence were posing new threats.
He said relations of Iran and Afghanistan were strong and efforts were underway to further stabilize ties between the two neighbors.
According to Jamal, drug trafficking was another major concern of Iran. He said the two countries needed to work out a joint strategy to halt smuggling of illicit substance.
The analyst said President Ghani should have assured the Iranian leadership that his government would make sure to halt narcotics smuggling to Iran from Afghanistan. He feared continued smuggling of drugs to Iran may harm the relationship of the two countries.
Analyst believed that Afghanistan should maintain cordial relations with its neighbors and other countries and assured that Afghan soil would not be used against any country.
President Ghani pledged he would not allow Afghanistan’s soil to be used against other counties for insurgent or any other violent activities.
The president is expected to fly to India on an official visit in order to get support of world largest democracy for tangible peace and stability in Afghanistan. But analysts viewed it would be difficult for the president to bring New Delhi and Islamabad on one point regarding peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan made it clear that rivalries of regional countries would not affect relation of Afghanistan with other states.
Earlier, Pakistani officials had promised all out support for Afghanistan reconciliation process and offered military and political support for the unity government.
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