Afghanistan reacts to US sanctions with more cooperation with Iran
The catastrophic humanitarian reality in Afghanistan is pushing the Taliban government to deal with Iran in order to secure the needs of its citizens. In light of US sanctions, this has become the best option.
The withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan a few months ago is nothing more than a military withdrawal from the country, as the United States still maintains its grip on the country, controlling it as it pleases through the harsh sanctions it imposes.
98% of Afghans do not consume enough food
After the Taliban movement came to power following the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, international financial institutions stopped aid to the country, as Washington froze about $9.5 billion in assets of the Afghan Central Bank, which prevented millions of people across Afghanistan from accessing basic commodities they need in order to survive, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
According to the latest survey conducted by the World Food Program, 98% of Afghans do not consume enough food, which is an alarming increase of 17% since August. Furthermore, the United Nations indicates in this context that about 23 million people, or about 55% of the population, face extreme levels of hunger and that about 9 million are at risk of starvation as the winter gets colder.
The organization also explained that "families are resorting to desperate measures as the bitter winter sets in; 9 in every 10 households are now buying less expensive food, 8 in 10 are eating less, and seven in ten are borrowing food to get by." The WFP stress that they need $220 million per month in 2022 to ramp up its operations and provide food and cash assistance to more than 23 million Afghans facing extreme hunger.
Afghan-Iranian cooperation in confronting the catastrophic humanitarian reality in Afghanistan
This catastrophic humanitarian reality seems to have prompted the Taliban government to deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to secure the needs of its citizens. In light of the US and European sanctions on the two countries, there is no better option than rapprochement and resorting to each other.
The Wall Street Journal reported in this regard that the two countries, which share a border of nearly 600 miles, seek "to put longstanding ideological and political differences aside as they seek to fill the vacuum left behind by American troops."
The newspaper added that the nature of the relationship between Afghanistan and Iran is manifested in Nimroz province, where "goods from potatoes to fertilizer and fuel [transport] through the desert from Iran to Afghanistan, their pickup trucks whipping up a trail of dust clouds.”
In turn, WSJ noted that from August to December, "Iran imported $45 million in goods through western Afghanistan, a 20% increase from the same period last year," adding that "The Afghan economy has shrunk by an estimated 40%, according to the United Nations."
WSJ continues, "On the streets of Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz, street vendors hawk Iranian spices and fruit covered in dust, and accept Iranian rials as payment." It added that street lamps that light up Zaranj, which resembles a spot of light in the middle of the dark desert, are powered by electricity flowing from the Iranian grid.
The newspaper also quoted a sales manager in one of the shops in the Afghan city of Herat as saying that he had replaced 60% to 65% of the brands that were Turkish or European with Iranian products, stressing that "we will 100% become more dependent on Iran if this situation continues."
Last November, Iran resumed oil and gas exports to Afghanistan, revealing at the same time that trade exchange between Iran on one side and Afghanistan and Pakistan on the other will witness a rise to $5 billion.
Contrary to most countries, Iran has remained in constant contact with the Taliban government in order to activate diplomatic efforts, as well as to strengthen economic and commercial relations, according to the newspaper.