Iranian envoy claims US was in Afghanistan ‘to control’ neighboring countries

Iranian Ambassador to Kabul Hassan Kazemi Qomi has claimed that the United States attacked Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of war on terrorism in order to have control over its neighboring countries, hinting that Washington had other objectives than cracking down on terrorism.

In an interview with the state-owned Iranian Al-Alam News Network, Qomi said: “Their (Americans) first excuse was Al-Qaeda terrorism. Al Qaeda terrorists caused 9/11 while they were in Iraq. But the fact of choosing [Afghanistan to attack] is that from America’s point of view Afghanistan is a conflux point of three civilizations that are in competition with America; Islamic Iran, Russian Orthodoxy and Chinese Confucian,” Qomi said.

Kazemi Qomi, who was recently appointed as Tehran’s Ambassador to Kabul, believes that the US has replaced its “proxy forces” in Afghanistan to continue Washington’s objectives in Afghanistan.

“After the Americans withdrew their military troops from Afghanistan, they replaced their proxy forces. At the same time, the US somehow has kept its intelligence and espionage forces [in the country]. In general, when you look at it, on one hand, the former Afghan army was destroyed, so there was no force to help maintain security. On the other hand, the people faced these conditions, and the Taliban were the forces that remained on the scene following their pullout,” he added.

Qomi stated that Washington’s withdrawal has also caused an economic crisis and fueled insecurity in Afghanistan.

The Iranian envoy claimed that the US has used the “ISIS phenomenon” to create a security crisis in Afghanistan, adding: “economic crisis was another issue that the US did not address during the last 20 years; rather, they (Americans) destroyed the basic infrastructure of Afghanistan, that’s why after the Taliban came [to power], they (Taliban) faced the phenomena of insecurity, economic and livelihood crisis, and the issues of Daesh.”

Meanwhile, a former Afghan diplomat, Noorullah Raghi, said that Afghanistan made good progress over the 20 years of American presence. He said the US entered Afghanistan to fight terrorism, prevent drug trafficking, fight extremism, and Afghanistan also developed in that time.

“The United States of America came to Afghanistan after the Pentagon and the World Trade Center were targeted, and this presence provided the greatest scope for the interests of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries with the West and the United States. The fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, extremism, and the threat of the immigration crisis were all US objectives. In the last 20 years, even a bullet was not fired toward the Islamic Republic [of Iran], instead, Iran’s economic exchanges with Afghanistan were increasing every day. These were all grounds that Iran could use and normalize its narrative with the West,” Raghi said.

Sayeed Mahdi Afzali, an international relations analyst, in turn said that Tehran took many advantages of Washington’s presence in Afghanistan and that Iran “benefited both in terms of security and economy. The withdrawal of the Americans from Afghanistan increased Iran’s work and created a serious threat for this country that could harm Iran’s interests in the short-term and in the long-term it could create serious crises for the country.”

Qomi, however, emphasized the need for an inclusive government that would ensure stability and security in Afghanistan.

Qomi pointed out that the Taliban want to remain at the center of power, based on the ideology of Hanafi jurisprudence Sharia while Afghanistan is a diverse country with various ethnicities and religions.

He stated: “While Afghanistan today has ethnic, religious, social and cultural diversity, some of the Taliban leaders who were in power for the past 16 months concluded that if they want stability and lasting security in Afghanistan, it requires the formation of a people-based and inclusive government.”

The US and NATO forces were present in Afghanistan for more than two decades and during this period, Afghanistan achieved progress in governance, human rights, democracy, and freedom of expression. All American and NATO forces left Afghanistan in August 2021 and the Taliban once again retook power after twenty years of war.