Afghanistan and Iran are moving in a more harmonious direction thanks to a long-term pact agreed to Sunday morning in Tehran. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed to various terms during a one day visit by Karzai.
Reuters quoted Karzai's spokesperson Aimal Faizi as saying that the move, "will be for long-term political, security, economic and cultural cooperation, regional peace and security." Faizi also stated that a document is being prepared to make the matter official.
While the two nations may see their pact as mutually beneficial, it's worrying to US officials. Afghanistan has been slow to show the same level of consideration regarding finalizing a security agreement with the United States. American forces have been working towards strengthening the Afghan military so that a troop withdrawal process will go smoothly. However, Karzai has requested certain conditions be changed in the agreement before agreeing to a deadline.
The United States wishes to avoid simply withdrawing troops haphazardly. There is concern that the lack of a stable and strong military presence will lead to the dominance of terrorist organizations in the region. The move to improve relations with Iran could be seen as an alternate remedy to this problem. Iran's own questionable nuclear policies is concerning to the international community. There is still a trade sanction severely limiting Iran as a result of their nuclear program, but they could still prove to be a powerful ally. Afghanistan's level of vulnerability means they'll have to seek friends closer to home than the United States, which despite thousands of troops remains a half a world away.
The distance doesn't lessen the presence of foreign influence in the eyes of Iran's president. Rouhani has been very vocal about his distrust of Western influences in the region, even going as far as taking his feelings to his official Twitter account:
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) December 8, 2013
Image: Wikimedia Commons