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Iran urges formation of inclusive Afghan govt., warns against military solution

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh speaks during an outdoor news conference in Tehran on April 5, 2021. (File photo by IRNA)

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman has called on Afghan groups to use US withdrawal as an opportunity to restore peace to their homeland, saying Afghanistan’s history shows that there is no military solution to its crises.

“While inviting all sides to maintain stability, we hope that the groups will make the most of the opportunity of the withdrawal of trans-regional forces to establish an inclusive government, while maintaining good relations with Afghanistan's neighbors,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said during a press conference on Monday.

“Afghanistan’s history shows that there is no military solution to the problem,” he said, voicing Iran’s readiness to cooperate on facilitating dialogue in the war-torn country.

Iran has been by the side of Afghanistan for the past 40 years, Khatibzadeh said as he emphasized the need to protect the lives of Afghan people as well as the rights of women there.

He also expressed hope that the recently-formed Coordination Council in Afghanistan will be able to help establish peace in the country.

The current situation, he said, has unleashed a new wave of refugees, which calls for continued humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people.

The Afghan government headed by Ashraf Ghani rapidly collapsed on August 15 amid the withdrawal of US forces, 20 years after they invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban.

The withdrawal began in early May and was expected to be concluded by the end of August, but the US says it is considering extending the deadline.

Disgraceful withdrawal

The Biden administration says it has an agreement with the Taliban, who are now back in power, under which the militant group should allow Americans and others to fly out of Afghanistan.

Reports have emerged in US media in recent days of Americans being harassed at checkpoints.

President Joe Biden said on Sunday that 11,000 people had been airlifted in the previous 30 hours and vowed that any American seeking to flee Afghanistan and return home will be able to do so.

“The US came to Afghanistan as an aggressor. Its entry into Afghanistan was tragic and its departure was disgraceful. This is a historic lesson for all, showing that the US, rather than bringing peace and security, has wreaked havoc wherever it has gone,” Khatibzadeh said. 

Iran, he said, is seeking to establish peace and security in the region, regardless of the ghastly legacy left by the US. 

“Videos coming out of Afghanistan make everyone’s heart bleed. It is a historical shame for those who claim to champion human rights. Right now, they have only kept their mouths shut except for justifying their aggression.” 

'More fuel for Lebanon'

Khatibzadeh also touched on the shipment of Iranian fuel to Lebanon, saying Tehran is ready to send more fuel to the crisis-stricken country.

“We sell our oil and its products based on our own decisions and the needs of our friends. Iran is ready to send more fuel to Lebanon if needed,” he said. “Certainly we cannot stand the suffering of the Lebanese people.”

Last week, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance, announced that a ship carrying Iranian fuel would set sail for Lebanon within hours, warning that the vessel and the next tankers carrying Iranian fuel would be regarded “Lebanese territory”. 

On Sunday, Nasrallah said the first ship is currently on its way to Lebanon and that the second ship will set off for the country within days.

According to a report by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), the fuel shipments have all been purchased by Lebanese businessmen.

The Twitter account of Nournews, which is close to the council, said the shipments, in contrast to speculations and rumors fomented by hostile news networks, are “neither a gift nor has the Lebanese government paid for them.”

In his remarks, Khatibzadeh expressed Iran’s readiness to also sell fuel to the Lebanese government in addition to purchases by Lebanese businessmen.

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