Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 9
By Temkin Jafarov, Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Iran uses Afghani refugees issue as a pressure factor against Afghanistan, Afghani expert on international issues, Hamid Elmi told Trend on Dec. 9.
Iran, along with Pakistan, has been a major destination for Afghans fleeing violence and persecution in their home country over the past few decades.
Elmi said that approximately there are over 2 million of Afghanis currently live in Iran. This is while on Dec. 2, Iranian media outlets quoted Iranian Police Chief Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam that about a million of foreigners, mainly from Afghanistan live in Iran illegally.
Ahmadi-Moghaddam also said at the time that each year Iran deports some 300,000 of foreigners illegally residing in the country.
Elmi who earlier served as deputy spokesman for Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai underlined that "whenever Iran-Afghanistan relations face problems, Iran raises the deportation issue of Afghani refugees from the country."
Commenting on Afghan President Hamid Karzai's latest visit to Tehran on Dec. 8, Elmi said that the visit happened in a very sensitive period while the Loya Jirga (grand council of tribal elders of Afghanistan) convened by Karzai, endorsed the bilateral security agreement with the United States and called for the president to sign it immediately.
Elmi underscored that the U.S.-Afghanistan security deal would affect the future of the Iran-Afghanistan relations, and Iran is against such scenario.
The security agreement spells out terms under which an estimated 10,000 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan beyond the original 2014 withdrawal date to assist the government in its war against Taliban.
Once signed, the accord would take effect January 1, 2015. Iran has announced that the security agreement will have negative results for the region if signed.
Elmi said that it will be hard to Afghanistan, if Iran uses Afghani refugees as a pressure factor against the Afghanistan in case if US-Afghan deal is signed.
Elmi believes that Hamid Karzai asked Iran to not impose pressure against Afghani refugees.
"Afghani politicians should convince Iran that the security deal is not against other countries, and not against Iran in particular," he added.
Edited by: S.I.