Sanction-exempted Chabahar; opportunity for Iran

IRNA – Given Chabahar’s exemption from the US sanctions against Iran, an expert on international affairs says that this measure is in line with the US policy of curbing China’s strength and Iran could use this capacity to reduce sanctions.

US Under Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, on Tuesday (May 13), in a meeting with the Afghan Foreign Minister, emphasized that the US sanctions against Iran would not include the Chabahar port, because the port is important for Afghanistan.

Alice Wells after meeting with the leaders of the National Unity Government and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, said in the eyes of Afghan government, the port could open the way to millions of dollars in Afghan trade and the end of its dependence on Pakistan’s Karachi Port.

The spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry said that the fact that sanctions did not include Iran’s Chabahar port is an important issue for Afghanistan. The Chabahar port is a great route to import and export of goods from Afghanistan to India and other countries. India and Afghanistan have already made a lot of efforts before Chabarar is exempted from sanctions.

The port of Chabahar is from the southern cities of Sistan and Baluchestan and the only oceanic port of Iran whose harbor is capable of harboring ocean-going vessels and is considered as a free trade zone of our country.

The port of Chabahar is of great importance because of the strategic location, which is the closest way to access of the Central Asian states to the free waters. This port is one of the most important crossroads of the North-South corridor of global commerce.

Pir- Mohammad Mollazehi, an expert on Afghanistan and the subcontinent affairs in an exclusive interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), said that he believes that Chabahar’s exemption from the US’ sanctions is to curb China’s power.

Chabahar’s exemption from United States’ sanctions is not to help Afghanistan, but on the basis of specific US regional and competition policies with China.

‘The Chinese invested in the port of Gwadar, south of the Balochistan province of Pakistan, turn it into a free trade zone, and are building a naval base there, and this is a very important issue for the Americans, and this port is the second the area in which the Chinese are building a naval base, and this is of particular importance to the Americans.’

The analyst also went on to say that ‘the more important thing about this is to connect a Kashmar beltway to Gwadar and transfer the Middle East oil and gas railroad and highway to Kashmar, and this will be transmitted to the center of China, and this is important for the US, and there is a perception that the Chinese will become the world’s top power economically, politically and militarily in the next few years; a danger to the future of the United States.

The expert said the United States will use India to control this emerging power, China, and should give India a chance to become powerful because a powerful India can control China. And the exemption of the Chabahar port is also due to the fact that the Indians have a dynamic economic activity in the port.

‘China and India are also faced with border disputes, and the territorial problems of the two countries could create a sort of polarization,’ he added. Americans chose India as their strategic partner since Pakistan has lost its previous position. Americans are pursuing this policy, with sanction- exempted Chabahar, so that India can play a role on the goals that America has in the region.

‘Of course, the Indians also have their own independent interests and politics, but the US long-term geopolitical interests, due to the lack of relations with Iran, require India to maintain its position in the region and protect India as a partner in the Central Asia,’ he said. And it seems that the exemption of the Chabahar port can be justified in the policy of confronting China, not helping Afghanistan and India.

** Chabahar Port, venue for the Indian-American economic competitions with China

‘China and India have serious disagreement on three states in northern India, and China claims that these regions historically belonged to Tibet,’ said Mollazehi.

Tibet has been historically the source of difference between India and China, and this border disagreement between the two countries makes America use it for its policies, via it approaching India to curb China. Given the Chinese are operating at the port of Gwadar and the Indians are exempted from the sanctions in the Chabahar port, to restrain China’s power by India, the Chabahar port, which is India’s sphere of activity has been exempted of sanctions.

He also noted that, of course, the Chinese are more strategic look in the Chabahar port. They believe that the port of Gwadar and the Chabahar port should not be defined as a competitor, but should be defined as a partner, and for this reason, the Chinese stated that they were ready to place a railway rails from Gwadar to Chabahar, and Chinese companies are also ready to compete with Americans.

** The boom in Chabahar and the end of Afghanistan’s dependence on the Karachi port

Mollazehi made the remark that on ending Afghanistan’s dependence on the Karachi port in Pakistan for economic exchanges, should be noted that Afghanistan and Pakistan have serious border disagreements.

Afghans believe that part of the northern provinces of Pakistan belongs to Afghanistan, and given the border and territorial disagreements between the two countries, Afghans sought to change their access to the sea and create diversity, as the Pakistani government blocked the port on Afghan traders due to political tensions from time to time.

“Of course, Chabahar’s exemption from sanctions is an historic opportunity for Afghanistan to end its dependence on the Karachi port in Pakistan, and Iran has provided the Afghan businessmen with a vast area in Chabahar, and this region could be an important area in the future,’ he added.

The expert concluded, ‘The Chabahar port is considered to be a very important and strategic which is an opportunity for our country to enable Iran to reduce its sanctions by means of economic exchanges in Chabahar.’