Possible deportation of about 3 Million Afghan Refugees from Iran
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi said his country is likely to ask Afghan refugees to leave the country as the Iranian economy was affected by the US sanctions. He was quoted by media saying that the Iranian Government may ask Afghan refugees to leave the country if the United States pushes further through its sanctions against it. During a TV interview, Mr. Araqchi added that his country hosts over three million Afghan refugees and has created two million job opportunities for them. Afghan Government called on the Iranian government not to use forced repatriation of Afghan refugees and avoid using it as political leverage against its adversaries.
One in every nine refugees worldwide is from Afghanistan, and Iran is one of the main host countries of these refugees. Iran and Pakistan are the only neighboring countries hosting about 6 million of documented and undocumented Afghan refugees. If Iran decides to force the repatriation it would create major problems for the Afghan government. The return of refugees will be an addition on ten thousand internally displaced people in the in-conflict ridden country.
Given the current resource base of the Afghan Government, the capacity of the Ministry of Refugees and Returnees and absorption capacity of the Afghan economy, mass expulsion of Afghans from Iran could be a serious crisis for the country. In the meantime, one cannot rule out the fact that Iranians might use the threat as a tool to put pressure on the Afghan Government and the international community to recognize Iranian position vis a vis its ongoing tussle with the US administration and it may not take any serious action. This notion stems from the fact that both Pakistan and Iran in the past have used Afghan refugees as a pressure tactic to influence Afghan politics. Whatever the intentions of Tehran are, the current statement about the Afghan refugees in Iran should because of serious concern for Kabul.
The sixth round of US-Taliban talks ended with ‘some progress’
The United States and Taliban negotiators have concluded their weeklong sixth round of peace negotiations with “some progress” made on a draft agreement. Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s political spokesman in the Qatari capital, Doha, said in a tweet on Thursday that “positive and constructive” negotiations took place for when foreign troops might withdraw from Afghanistan. “Today, the 6th round of talks between IEA and US negotiation teams ended, with some progress made on the draft agreement prepared in the last round of talks. Both sides will consult with their leaders and discuss the remaining points in the next round of talks”, he tweeted. He added that both sides would meet again for another round of discussions. “In general, this round was positive and constructive. Both sides listened to each other with care and patience,” Shaheen wrote on Twitter.
Before the US agrees to any withdrawal as part of an eventual deal, it is demanding the Taliban put in place security guarantees, a ceasefire and other commitments including an “intra-Afghan” dialogue with the Kabul government and other Afghan representatives.