Iran and developments in its eastern neighbor

September 10, 2021 - 17:47

TEHRAN - In response to the developments in Afghanistan over the past month or so, Iran has emphasized the need to avoid fratricide and prevent foreign interference in its eastern neighbor, and has stated that it will do everything it can to help end the suffering of the Afghan people and form an inclusive government.

The Fars news agency in a report on Tuesday wrote that “following the recent developments in Afghanistan, we have witnessed the announcement of positions and also efforts by the Islamic Republic of Iran to establish peace and stability in this country.”
Iran has hosted millions of its Afghan brothers and sisters for the past four decades, and as Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh says, Iran has never had anything but kinship with the Afghan people. 

Mohammad Ebrahim Taherianfard, special representative of the Iranian Foreign Minister for Afghanistan, also continued consultations with Afghan officials during this period, and these consultations did not stop.

Readiness to assist and facilitate talks between the Afghan parties to advance the peace process in the country, declaring readiness to hold the second round of peace talks, expressing deep concern over developments in Afghanistan, keeping the Afghan people away from conflict and fratricide, and that borders of this country should be the border of peace and security, that Iran considers the security of Afghanistan as its own, and welcoming the formation of the Coordination Council and emphasizing that Afghanistan's geography should always remain geography of peace, have been were among the positions adopted by Iranian officials in the face of developments in its eastern neighbor.

Prior to the recent developments in Afghanistan, Khatibzadeh in a statement urged all countries not to take measures that would imply that they were supposed to get involved in making decisions for the future of Afghanistan.

On August 13, Khatibzadeh expressed Iran’s concern regarding the escalation of violence in Afghanistan and the situation of people and those displaced.

The spokesman also stressed ensuring full security and safety of diplomats and diplomatic facilities as the Taliban took over the city of Herat.

The formation of Coordination Council

After the departure of Ashraf Ghani and some other officials from the country, and formation of the Coordination Council by Abdullah Abdullah, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Hamid Karzai, Former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted, “Violence and war - like occupation - are never the solution. Iran welcomes Karzai's announcement of the formation of a Coordination Council by Afghan leaders. We hope that this initiative will lead to dialogue and a peaceful transition in Afghanistan. Iran is ready to continue its efforts to make peace.”

We are in contact with all parties

At a weekly press briefing on August 16, Foreign Ministry spokesman Khatibzadeh said: "We are closely following the developments and are in contact with all parties. The Islamic Republic of Iran, while expressing concern over the escalation of violence in Afghanistan, calls on all parties to reduce violence, maintain calm, and strive for peaceful solutions through dialogue”.

Speaking to reporters on August 23, the spokesman reaffirmed Iran’s stance vis-à-vis developments in Afghanistan.

 “There is no military solution to the problems of Afghanistan, and all groups and political parties must resolve issues through negotiation and refrain from using force.”

"We are basically not at that stage right now," he said of the Taliban's recognition. “We are now at a stage where we must strive to form an inclusive government in Afghanistan that, if it reflects all the realities of Afghanistan and the ethnic and popular composition of Afghanistan from different perspectives, can move in that direction.”

As the diplomat highlighted it is certainly the behavior of an inclusive government in terms of its actions and commitments that can facilitate the path to recognize it. 

“It is too early for us to decide now on the future government of Afghanistan. What is a priority for us is the lives and honor of the people and inclusive dialogue and formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan,” Khatibzadeh insisted. 

Qureshi trip to Tehran

On September 26, Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, at his request and after a visit to three Central Asian countries, paid a visit to Iran and met with Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran’s Foreign Minister.

The two countries' support for peace and stability in Afghanistan and formation of an inclusive government with participation of all ethnic groups was among other topics discussed by the Iranian and Pakistani foreign ministers during the meeting. 

In the meeting, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs welcomed a proposal by the Pakistani side to hold a meeting of the foreign ministers of six countries neighboring Afghanistan and announced Iran's readiness to hold the meeting.

In addition, Iran's Special Representative for Afghanistan met with his Pakistani counterpart, who accompanied Qureshi on his visit to Tehran, and also consulted with Afghan leaders and personalities about the developments in the country.

The issue of Afghanistan and the developments in this country during this period were among the topics discussed by the Iranian Foreign Minister with a number of his counterparts, including Sergei Lavrov and Wang Yi, foreign ministers of Russia and China. 
EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell and some of European counterparts also discussed the issue of Afghanistan in a telephone conversation with the Iranian foreign minister.

People of Afghanistan must decide for themselves 

In a telephone conversation with Borrell, Iran’s Foreign Minister said formation of an inclusive government that reflects the ethnic and demographic composition of the country is the remedy to the Afghanistan problem.
"It is the people of Afghanistan who must decide for the future. The Islamic Republic of Iran hosts more than three and a half million Afghans in Iran, but the new wave of Afghan migration is a serious issue that requires other countries and international organizations to provide assistance.” 

In the exchange of views between the foreign ministers of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People's Republic of China, they insisted on the need to form an inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic groups in Afghanistan. The two chief diplomats also emphasized the need in the campaign fight terrorism and drugs as an important priority, sending humanitarian aid without interruption and striving to keep border crossings open.

Khatibzadeh expressed Iran’s deep regret over the terrorist attacks on August 26, including at Kabul Airport.

At a weekly news conference on August 30 about a question whether Iran would recognize the Taliban in light of the Leader's recent orders, the spokesman said: "What the Supreme Leader said has been the firm policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding Afghanistan in the last 40 years.”

“We have always stood by the people of Afghanistan and our priority has always been to ensure peace and stability and the development of the Afghan society. Afghanistan is our dear neighbor,” the official noted.

In his first televised interview on Afghanistan on August 30, Foreign Minister Abdollahian said: "We support Afghanistan so that the views of the Afghan people can be seen in determining their fate in this country, and at this point what is important is formation of an inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic Afghan groups which is a unique political solution to Afghanistan's problems.”

Abdollahian stated: "In the case of Afghanistan if foreigners give up (interference in) Afghanistan, the leaders of Afghanistan and the leaders of all Afghan tribes, parties and groups have the ability to decide for the future of their country. We support a safe and stable Afghanistan, an Afghanistan that lives in peace and stability with its neighbors, and an Afghanistan whose people play a role in determining their own destiny.”

Speaking in the first live TV interview with the people on September 4, President Ebrahim Raisi noted, “The solution to the issue in Afghanistan is the establishment of a government based on people’s vote”.

Raisi stated, “The issue of Afghanistan has shown that the presence of the Americans not only does not create security anywhere but also undermines security”.

“Afghanistan has really suffered a great deal. With the oppression of Afghanistan by the Americans and foreign countries, this country has been oppressed for years and Afghan children are injured and disabled every day”.

Raisi added, "Today, the international community is announcing that more than 30,000 Afghan children have been injured over the past two decades (since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan), many homes have been destroyed and the people of Afghanistan have been severely affected. Today, in Iran alone, we host more than 3 million Afghans who have been displaced from their homeland”.

On Sunday night, Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the Supreme Reconciliation Council of Afghanistan, spoke by telephone with Amir-Abdollahian and demanded that Iran send humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. 

The two sides also stressed that it is the Afghan people who must decide the future of their country. In addition, former Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar sent a message to his Iranian counterpart.

Khatibzadeh, in his weekly news conference last week, in response to a question about possible Pakistan's military involvement in the attacks on Panjshir, said: "The news coming from Panjshir is worrying. Sunday night’s attacks are strongly condemned. The martyrdom of Afghan leaders is deeply regrettable and deeply moving”.

Foreign Minister Abdollahian, at his meeting on September 6 with foreign ambassadors and heads of international organizations residing in Iran, referred to relations with all parties in Afghanistan and stressed the need to form an inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

Expressing concern over the developments in the country and the growth of terrorism and drug trafficking in neighboring Afghanistan, the foreign minister stated: "Sending humanitarian aid is one of our priorities and despite the difficult conditions, we have tried to keep our border crossings open for sending aid and trade.”

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