Afghanistan and Iran are expected to sign a strategic cooperation deal during President Ashraf Ghani’s upcoming tour to the neighboring country, sources close to the negotiations over the agreement have said.
Meanwhile, civil society activists and political analysts have emphasized the importance that the agreement and the evolving relationship between the two countries doesn’t aggravate ties with other nations.
Last month, Ghani’s National Security Advisor, Hanif Atmar, travelled to Iran where he met officials and announced that the two neighbors would soon sign a bilateral strategic cooperation agreement. He heralded the deal as a historic step forward for economic and security relations between Iran and Afghanistan.
Lawmakers in Parliament have been cautious in their expression of support for the agreement, which they need to review. “We welcome the signing of cooperation partnership agreements with other countries, but our national interests should be preserved in the agreements,” MP Irfanullah Irfan said. “The House of Representatives upholds the authority whether to endorse or reject the agreement.”
Some backlash to the announcement has been heard from civil society groups who claim the government has been opaque in its negotiations. “Afghanistan extremely needs to sign strategic cooperation partnerships with other countries, but signing agreements shouldn’t lead to concerns and sensitivity among other countries,” civil society activist Bari Salam said.
“In consideration of Iran-U.S. bilateral relations, signing the agreement between Kabul and Tehran will not raise concerns in the U.S., but it will lead to concern in Saudi Arabia and some European countries,” university professor Jumma Khan Mohammadi told TOLOnews.
Afghanistan maintains strategic cooperation agreements with the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Turkey and the European union and two bilateral security agreements with the U.S. and NATO.