August 14, 2007

THE DE FACTO ALLY:

Ahmadinejad's first Afghan visit ruffles US feathers (Robert Tait, August 14, 2007, Guardian Unlimited)

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, audaciously signalled his determination to counter US global power today by meeting his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, in open defiance of Washington's wishes. [...]

Describing Iran and Afghanistan as "two brother nations with common interests, cultures and histories", he told reporters: "The present condition of the region demands more exchange and negotiations between Tehran and Kabul. In this trip economic cooperation, especially over Iran's participation in Afghan development plans, will be discussed."

The trip is intended to put the seal on a range of Iranian-led reconstruction projects as well as consolidate areas of cooperation such as combating drug traffickers.

Iranian aid - worth a total of £125m - has been provided for three projects, a water research centre, a dental college and equipment for Kabul's medical university.

Illustrative of the trip's importance from Iran's perspective was the presence of several senior government figures in the president's party, including Ali Larijani, secretary of the supreme national security council, Manouchehr Mottaki, the foreign minister, and the economy minister, Davoud Danesh-Jafari.

Iran gave Washington informal help in overthrowing the Taliban government following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. Months later, Mr Bush killed any prospect of a thaw in relations between Washington and Tehran by labelling Iran as a member of the "axis of evil", along with Iraq and South Korea.

Despite US suspicions, Iran - which has one of the world's highest drug addiction rates - argues that it has legitimate interests in combating the influx of heroin and opiates from the poppy fields of Afghanistan. More than 3,000 Iranian police and security personnel have been killed in clashes with drug smugglers along the Afghan border since 1979.

There are also at least 2 million Afghan refugees in Iran. The issue has caused tensions recently after Tehran forcibly sent around 100,000 refugees back to Afghanistan, arguing that they were illegal migrants and a drain on the Iranian economy.


The Eagle can withstand some rufflage.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 14, 2007 9:21 AM
Comments

What the gleeful Guardian reporter forgets is that we don't liberate countries so they'll be our vassals.

Plus, I'm pretty sure Afghanistan will always be a more faithful friend and ally than France was after we saved their bacon twice.

Posted by: b at August 14, 2007 11:59 AM
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