The US reinstated sanctions on Iran on Monday, with President Donald Trump calling them the toughest sanctions ever imposed on Tehran and all other states that trade with Iran. According to the move, all sanctions removed under the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached in 2015 between Iran, and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States—plus Germany and the European Union, were re-imposed on Tehran on Monday, targeting its oil sales, the energy industry, shipping, banking, insurance and etc. President Trump decided last May to withdraw from the deal. While other parties to the agreement opposed Washington’s decision stressing they will comply with the deal, Trump followed through with his promise and reintroduced even tougher sanctions against Iran.
The new restrictions also affect Afghanistan in various aspects. Tehran is Kabul’s major trading partner. Not only an overwhelming proportion of Afghanistan’s imports still come from Iran, but the country is also the main labor market for Afghans. As Afghan labor market is under significant stress in terms of unemployment, a lot of Afghan laborers go to Iran to earn a living for their families. Nonetheless, the fate of Iran’s Chabahar port is a greater fear. The port serving as an alternative for Pakistan’s transit routes is very crucial for Afghanistan, especially now as political tensions between Kabul and Islamabad have also affected trade and transit ties between the two neighbors. Moreover, Chabahar provides a surface link between New Delhi and Kabul.
Afghan government seems to be worried about the issue. President Ghani met with US Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells in Kabul to discuss the future of Chabahar port just a day before the US sanctions on Iran became effective. Without further elaboration, ARG or the Presidential Palace has said in a brief statement that Kabul has also previously taken the matter of Chabahar up with Washington. ARG has promised to share with the public the results of the discussions which will have positive economic impact on Afghanistan.
If the United States doesn’t realize the tumultuous situation of Afghanistan and waive the Kabul-Iran trade and transit ties, the problems of Afghan people already plagued by extreme economic constraints can further soar. Kabul and Washington have to work together to make sure the impoverished Afghans do not have to pay the price for frosting US-Iranian relations.
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