Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani outlined a “long term friendship pact” on Sunday according to an Afghan government spokesman. The new agreement with Iran comes amid heightening tensions between Afghan and U.S. leaders over the stalled Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), which would keep Western forces in Afghanistan after 2014.
The Afghan-Iran agreement would cover political, economic, and cultural affairs according to Iran’s state run news agency (IRNA). However, details of the new plan were not made available to the media. Tehran and Kabul also signed a separate border security agreement over the weekend creating “a joint committee on terrorism, security-related organized crimes as well as controlling the borders to fight human trafficking, (illegal) immigration and drug smuggling.” Both sides had already agreed to another security framework last August.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai walk together during a ceremony in Tehran on December 8th. (Photo: AFP)
Recent meetings and agreements between President Karzai and President Hassan Rouhani show both country’s attempts to skirt U.S. influence in the region. During Karzai’s one day trip to Tehran Sunday, IRNA quoted Rouhani as warning that all foreign forces should leave the region. He asserted Afghans can defend themselves and that the U.S. presence helps fuel extremism.
While Karzai tries to seek support from regional allies to sign the BSA on his own terms, Rouhani hopes that engagement in regional security agreements and anti-U.S. rhetoric will ensure support from Iranian hardliners. A number of conservatives criticized Rohani’s support for a deal with the U.S. in Geneva that was touted as curbing Iran’s uranium enrichment.