June 19, 2020
President Ashraf Ghani’s government on Thursday came under fire from lawmakers who condemned the “soft” response to the summoning of its envoy by Tehran following a wave of anti-Iranian protests.
The protests in Afghanistan and some Western capitals followed the killing of Afghan migrants in two separate incidents allegedly by Iranian forces.
Tension has increased between the two uneasy neighbors since May 1 when 13 Afghan migrants drowned after they were forced by Iranian forces to cross a river at gunpoint.
In the second incident, which took place in the Iranian city of Yazd on June 5, three Afghans died after police opened fire on a vehicle that failed to stop for a routine check.
The two incidents sparked protests around Afghanistan and among some Afghan refugees living in the West.
Images of Iranian leaders were set alight, while a group of protesters threw red ink at the entrance of Iran’s Kabul embassy, prompting Tehran to summon the Afghan envoy on June 14.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the republic had warned the Afghan envoy “that such actions, insults and offenses are intolerable.”
The Foreign Ministry in Kabul failed to respond to the summoning of the Afghan envoy, but said the acting foreign minister will travel to Tehran next week for talks.
However, lawmaker Nazifa Zaki told Arab News: “Let us put aside the injustice that Iran has committed to our citizens and subsequent treatment of our ambassador, our government and the diplomatic apparatus here should have reacted and now need to take the blame for the very soft reaction to Iran’s summoning of our envoy and warning him against protests here.”
She added: “The government and our Foreign Ministry’s approach to what Iran has been doing shows their ineptness and weakness.”
On Wednesday, the Afghan parliament’s international relations committee summoned Foreign Ministry officials and criticized their alleged incompetence and neglect.
“Iran can arrest and deport our nationals when they are caught without papers and documents, but should not kill them and treat our ambassador this way,” Hamidullah Tokhi, another MP, told Arab News.
He said the government was “bogged down in corruption” and “had failed to provide justice for its nationals at home and abroad.”
“The government is weak, and is thinking only how to accumulate money and remain in power,”
Ghani’s office failed to respond when asked for a comment.
On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Gran Hewad told Arab News that the ministry has “taken serious, diplomatic and practical measures” following the drowning of migrants.
Political analysts agreed that Kabul’s response had been soft, but said that Ghani’s new government, largely isolated in the region and weaker than his previous one, could not afford to annoy Iran while seeking to finalize a peace deal with the Taliban.
Said Azam said that Afghanistan “was extremely vulnerable to all levels of punitive action” by Iranian authorities.
“Iran has agents and proxy groups who are very strong and influential in all levels of government and society within Afghanistan” he said.
He pointed to the use of hundreds of Shiite Afghans by Iran for its proxy wars in the Middle East in recent years.