The Persian Trio: A Glance at Trend of Cooperation among Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The sweetness of the Persian language has appeased politicians in the three countries of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Basically after the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union, Iran’s strategic location in linking via land east Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Persian Gulf to Central Asia, Russia and Europe, has created a central point for Iran from eco-geographical point of view which is different from the past and requires new policies and strategies in economic-industrial development and promotion of trade.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan are three Persian speaking countries which are also cooperating within the framework of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). From this point of view, cooperation among the three countries has considerable impact on expansion of regional cooperation with respect to deep cultural commonalities and necessities of regional cooperation.

The convergence of the three Persian speaking countries has caused concern for Russia. The Russian newspaper ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ wrote in a report that the heads of state of Tajikistan, Iran, and Afghanistan are seriously preparing grounds for talks which might lead to concluding an economic treaty among the three Persian language countries of the region.

Certain experts maintain that such a prospect heralds lessening of Russian influence in Tajikistan.

Tajikistan was traditionally inclined towards Moscow but now intends to base its foreign policy on rapprochement to Iran rather than Russia. Rashid Abdolou, an expert on Tajikistan affairs, says during the past two years, the policy of being subject to the conditions of the day has prevailed over Russian Central Asian policy.  

Development of relations with new countries is to the detriment of old and strategic allies of Russia. Iran, however, has used the weak position of Russia in Tajikistan, a country that Tehran views as a part of Greater Iran.

Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan, in his recent trip to Tehran not only managed to receive good economic assistance but received assurances about Iran’s support in resolving other problems of his country.

Tajikistan experienced an unprecedented cold winter but did not receive any considerable assistance from its neighbors, Russia in particular.

A glance at the final statement of the tripartite meeting of Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan indicates that there are divergent grounds for cooperation among the three countries. This includes a broad spectrum of cooperation ranging from economic ventures to training specialized manpower and establishment of institutions and infrastructure to protect multilateral investment and plans.

The emphasis laid on campaign against terrorism and narcotics in the statement of foreign ministers of the three countries indicates the importance of these issues at regional level. Terrorism, insecurity and continued production of narcotics in Afghanistan are among major obstacles in the way of the country’s development and progress.

The phenomenon of narcotics beside other dangerous phenomena in the region such as organized crimes and terrorism which grow as a result of the presence of foreign forces in the region are among issues that are regarded threats to the region.

This is under conditions that the United States and Britain have occupied Afghanistan by promising to fight terrorism and root out narcotics. The NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan, however, have admitted their incapability to establish peace in that country.

Under such conditions, the regional countries need cooperation more than ever. The tripartite meeting of Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan is significant as a step towards meeting this need and following up the agreements of the meeting can bring about positive results for the three countries and the region.

During the nine months (to end of September) of the current year, the volume of Tajikistan trade with Iran reached UDS 183.2 million, up by about 10 percent compared to the same period last year. Of this amount, USD 84 million was the value of Tajikistan’s exports to Iran and USD 99.2 million its imports from Iran.

Tajikistan exports to Iran are mainly aluminum and cotton and in return imports foodstuffs, construction materials, electronic equipment, fuel and vehicles.

Afghanistan a war-torn country with a population of 30 million, a GDP of 15 billion dollars, an unemployment rate of 15 percent, a per capita of USD 350, and mineral, gas and oil reserves as well as tourism attractions, 16 Afghan and foreign banks, not even one insurance company and an opportunity for reconstruction and rehabilitation, is a suitable region for Iranian investors.

Iran has helped more than USD 350 million to help Afghanistan’s reconstruction during the years after the fall of the Taliban. According to Afghan officials this amount has been spent on farming, health, education and reconstruction of roads, electricity transfer lines, and drinking water in various parts of the country.

Anyway, it seems that a strategic prospect is before the tripartite Persian language countries and these three counties can prepare the necessary ground for economic and social progress through further convergence.


طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم