KABUL: Some analysts believe severed relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran could be a challenge for Afghanistan as both the regional rivals would try to weaken each other’s influence in Afghanistan.
Ideological differences between Saudi and Iran are historic, but relations between them disrupted on Sunday when Saudi Arabia announced it had cut ties with Iran and fellow-Sunni Bahrain followed suit on Monday, two days after Iranian demonstrators stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran in protest at Riyadh’s execution of a senior Shia cleric.
Saudi Foreign Ministry said Tehran did not act to prevent the protestors from attacking the Saudi embassy and seized official documents from the embassy, so the country decided to cut diplomatic relations with Iran and asked Iranian diplomats to leave the kingdom in 48 hours.
But on Monday, Iran accused Saudi Arabia of using the attack on its embassy as a pretext to sever ties in a diplomatic crisis deepening their often violent struggle for influence across the Middle East.
“As Iran and Saudi are involved in Afghanistan affairs, they would try to weaken the influence of each other in this country and would disrupt the situation of the country because an opportunity exists for them to compete,” international affairs analyst, Abdul Shakoor Salangi, said.
Afghanistan, which could be affected by the severed relations between the two countries, should prepare its foreign policy based on national interests not ideologies, he suggested.
Another analyst, Ali Akbar Jamshidi, said cutting ties between Iran and Saudi was not good for the Islamic world especially for Afghanistan.
He said the Afghans as a nation would not participate in a proxy war on their country’s soil between the two countries, but their rivalry would be a challenge for Afghanistan.
He said as an independent country, Afghanistan should try to keep good relations with both Iran and Saudi Arabia and play an important role in the restoration of the ties between the two countries.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah, at the head of a high level delegation, on Monday visited Iran amid fears his visit would affect Afghanistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia.
But the two analysts said Abdullah’s Iran visit was preplanned and had nothing to do with the tension between the two countries.
Last month, Saudi Arabia announced a new military block to fight extremism and terrorism in the Islamic world.
Saudi had also asked Afghanistan to join the 34-member coalition, but Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar had said they would declare their decision in this regard after a full assessment and consultations at home.
By Muhammad Hassan Khetab (Pajhwok)