Afghanistan fears fallout from Soleimani’s death

Afghanistan fears fallout from Soleimani’s death
An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier inspects passengers at a checkpoint in Kabul, Afghanistan September 25, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Updated 04 January 2020

Afghanistan fears fallout from Soleimani’s death

Afghanistan fears fallout from Soleimani’s death
  • There are some US military bases near the shared border with Afghanistan becoming an indirect battleground between the US and Iran in recent years

KABUL: Afghanistan is concerned about the fallout from the assassination of Iran’s top army commander by a US airstrike, with President Ashraf Ghani saying he would not allow the country to be used against any foreign country.
Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force and architect of its regional security strategy, was killed in an airstrike near the Iraqi capital’s airport.
There are grave concerns that the spike in tension between the US and Iran could lead to further bloodshed.
Afghanistan shares a border with Iran that measures almost a thousand kilometers, and there are fears the country could become embroiled in any escalation.
“The Afghan government reassures the Afghan people and the neighboring countries that Afghanistan’s territory will not be used against any other nation in the region,” Ghani said in a statement.
There are some US military bases near the shared border with Afghanistan becoming an indirect battleground between the US and Iran in recent years.
“It is not clear where Iran may hit US interests,” Ahmad Saeedi, a former diplomat, told Arab News.
“We worry that since we are close to Iran and there are a number of American bases, Iran may choose to go after them here. We are highly vulnerable as America may retaliate from here and then a protracted war could spark in which Afghan refugees in Iran will suffer ... our business through Iran which makes over 60 percent of imports will suffer too,” he said, adding that a lack of unity among Afghan leaders may also further complicate the situation and make Afghanistan more vulnerable.
Former Afghan interior minister, Ali Ahmad Jalali, said: “The rising tension between Washington and Tehran puts the Afghan government in a precarious situation as it walks a tightrope between maintaining friendly relations with Iran as a neighbor and working with the US as its strategic partner in security and developmental matters.”
The Afghan daily newspaper Weesa said in a Saturday editorial that the presence and war goals of the US in the region were of “high risk” because Washington had no clear definition of its foes and friends, and allowing it to act with a free hand was dangerous.
Former Afghan Deputy Defense Minister Tamim Asey argued that Soleimani’s killing could trigger a war between Tehran and Washington, which would eventually foment a proxy war in Afghanistan.
“Iran has a lot of influence in the region, while American (military) bases are also spread over the region,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan. “This will prompt both sides to rely on proxies.”
Asey also said that Tehran could prompt the Taliban to end peace negotiations with the US, while also pushing some Afghan political factions under its influence to imperil the stuttering peace process.
Some government officials have alleged that Tehran in recent years has been providing arms and training to the Taliban to fight US troops stationed in Afghanistan.
There has also been mixed reaction to Soleimani’s death in Afghanistan. Some consider him a martyr and others accuse him of mobilizing thousands of Afghanistan’s Shiites for Iran’s proxy wars in the Middle East.