Iran siphons investment away from Afghanistan, compounding economic crisis

By Omar

Afghan protesters throw stones at the building of the Iranian consulate during a demonstration against the alleged published reports of harassment of Afghan refugees in Iran, in Herat on April 11. [Mohsen Karimi/AFP]

Afghan protesters throw stones at the building of the Iranian consulate during a demonstration against the alleged published reports of harassment of Afghan refugees in Iran, in Herat on April 11. [Mohsen Karimi/AFP]

HERAT -- At a time when Afghanistan's economy is in shambles, Tehran is trying to lure Afghan investors and entrepreneurs to invest in Iran instead.

The Iranian regime on May 10 granted citizenship to some 20 Afghan investors and entrepreneurs.

Iran has vowed to provide full support to Afghan investors, a promise some experts say is deliberately aimed at hindering Afghanistan's economy.

Ahmad Zia Munir, an economic expert in Herat city, said the Iranian regime is taking advantage of Afghanistan's current crisis to encourage Afghans to invest in Iran.

"Afghanistan's current uncertain and desperate situation has led the Iranian regime to attract hopeless Afghan investors towards their country," he said.

"Iran has spared no destructive effort to jeopardise Afghanistan's business and trade environment in the last several years, and now they want to destroy the country's economy by attracting investment away," he added.

The Islamic Republic's decision to grant citizenship to Afghan investors comes at a time when Iran's own economy has been severely affected by global sanctions.

The latest move is particularly notable because Iran has one of the strictest requirements for granting citizenship to foreign nationals.

For example, Iran is among the countries that do not automatically grant citizenship by birth to any foreign-born resident.

Damaging Afghanistan's industries

The policies of the Iranian regime have in part led to the closure of more than 50% of the factories in Herat's industrial park over the past several years.

Iran's illegal dumping of cheap products to Afghanistan has led to the failure of Afghanistan's domestic production, say observers.

Hamidullah Khadim, Chairman of Herat's Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said out of 400 functioning factories in Herat's industrial park, more than 200 were forced to close due to neighbouring countries' dumping policy.

Afghan investors have taken their capital out of Afghanistan over the past years and re-invested much of it in Iran, he added.

"Afghan producers have lost the ability to compete in local markets because neighbouring countries, especially Iran, have managed to illegally [export] low quality and very cheap products. This has led to the closure of most factories," he said.

And now, "granting citizenship to Afghan investors is damaging Afghanistan's economy and has led to the influx of Afghan capital into Iran", Khadim said.

Mohammad Sediq Afzali, the owner of a food factory in Herat's industrial park, said that the rate of his factory's production has decreased by about 70% in recent years due to the excessive import of Iranian food supplies.

"I have invested $25 million in the factory and our products include cake, biscuits, and a variety of candy. We could not compete in the local market because the same products have been imported at much lower prices from Iran," he added.

"Iran has been playing a direct role in paralysing our industry sector."

Afzali said the Iranian regime's intrusive goal is to crush Afghanistan's industrial sector and prevent it from growing so that the country's markets depend on Iranian products.

Harassing vulnerable refugees

Tehran's efforts to attract Afghan capital also comes as most Afghan refugees face a different reality.

Iran has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades, but fresh waves have flooded the country since August, testing the patience of authorities and ordinary citizens.

Horrific images and videos of Afghan refugees in Iran have been circulating on social media in recent months showing bloodied young Afghans who have been attacked with knives and other lethal objects.

Protests broke out last month in Herat after videos circulated purporting to show Iranian border guards and civilians beating Afghans, although it was unclear when and where the images were filmed.

Iranian authorities deport some 2,000 people daily through the Islam Qala border. An equal number are also deported each day via the border crossing in Nimroz province, according to the Herat Department of Refugees.

Iranian security forces have been actively searching for Afghans to arrest and deport, Asadullah Nazari, a resident of Badakhshan province who was recently deported from Iran, said on May 16.

"I was working in a construction company in Tehran. The police arrested me at once and did not even allow me to change my work uniform," Nazari said at a UN refugee camp in Herat.

"They took me to the detention centre. They did not let me collect my wallet and personal belongings," he added.

"Afghan refugees [are valued less than] animals in Iran. When Iranian [authorities] know that we are Afghans, they start insulting us, and some do not hesitate to torture and beat us," he said.

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The Afghan government should revoke the citizenship of those persons who have obtained citizenship in Iran and Pakistan. Those who are funded and equipped by the mentioned two countries, and then they are bestowed with such citizenships. They certainly have bad intentions for Afghanistan, and they can cause dangers for Afghanistan in the future.


So what else can we expect from a country like Iran? Iran, which does not treat its own people well, steals from the Iranian treasury, sells Iranian resources to China and Russia, stifles freedom of expression in its own country, shoots peaceful protesters in the head, executes civil society activists and its opponents without any legal evidence, then how will they treat the Afghans? The inhumane regime of Iran, which oppresses its people in the name of Islam, is in fact an inhuman and anti-Islamic regime. They are not thinking about anything else except for the interests of a small group of skilled thieves who control and lead everything from culture, economy, education, army and foreign policy to very small issues. Hopefully, one day, the clerical regime, like other authoritarian and dictatorial regimes in the world, will be overthrown by its people’s revolution and the people of Iran, Afghanistan and the world will get rid of this great devil.


It is not just the investment and cash that Iran is trying to steal and divert them for its own benefit. Rather than these, Iran has bigger plans to rob out Afghanistan's mineral resources. A few years ago, the New York Times reported on Afghanistan's mines and wrote that Afghanistan is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of underground resources. The New York Times wrote that the newly discovered reserves of lithium, iron, copper, cobalt and gold in southern Afghanistan are large enough to make this poor country one of the most important countries in the world. Afghanistan's lithium is equivalent to Saudi Arabia’s oil, and Afghanistan's copper reserves are equal to Chile's largest copper reserves, the report says. The source added, Hajigak mine has two billion tons of iron reserves, Afghanistan uranium is unique in the world and the value of Afghanistan’s gas is one trillion dollars. The report also says that Afghanistan’s emeralds are even better than Colombian emeralds and Afghanistan’s diamonds are better than the African diamonds. Due to the existence of this abundant number of resources, the Iranian government is looking at Afghanistan's mines in order to plunder the country's resources. According to the regional office of Tasnim news agency, "Hossein Salimi," head of Iran-Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce, referring to the latest trade situation between the two countries, said that an offer has been made to enter into Afghanistan's mines sector to continue


You are right, but the reality is that Afghanistan needs to extract its mines. You have not referred to Pakistan's robberies. Pakistan has also said today that it wants to reach Kunar and Nuristan via Chitral and even the donkey knows that it wants to steal timbers of Afghanistan's forests or mines from there. The point is that Afghanistan cannot be safe from the Iranian and Pakistani governments' thieves, the sympathizers of Afghans, and especially the United States, which has been helping Afghans for decades help in this area. They can assist Afghanistan in training professionals and providing equipment and supplies.


This article is disappointing. God has given the world’s most shameless, unconscious, cruel, wild, greedy, and hypocritical neighbor to Afghanistan. No other country has ever harassed its neighbor this much the way Iran and Pakistan did. Their hypocrisy is beyond tolerance when their cruel and foolish leaders shout in the media about their friendship with Afghans and their support for them. However, these disloyal countries have never stopped destroying Afghans and Afghanistan. Afghan laborers were more involved in Iran's construction during the reign of King Abdullah II, due to which Iran is considered developed. Later on, during the Iraq-Iran war, the Afghan refugees, based on their courage, fought more than the Iranians on the fighting front lines, and they freed Iran. Lately, by using the Afghan youth force, Iran beat its opponents during the Syrian war; however, in exchange for all this, Afghans received from Iran were harassing, torturing, beating, insulting, deporting, killing, and even cut body parts of Afghans. We, the Afghans, do not have anything other than Allah to ask about our situation, and I pray to God to immediately degrade Iran as it comes to our current situation.


Bro, in this world, everyone follows his interests. They are not like our leaders who destroy their complete state systems in exchange for some money, positions, or cars. Instead of doing bad prayers for Iran, you may better pray good for the Afghans as they can become clever and not kill each other in one or another name. Clever nations do not blame others; instead, they find out about their issues and start making efforts and building their own country. They do not cry, do not do bad prayers all day, and do not ask God to weaken and destroy their enemies. Look at Iran and Azerbaijan and see how many difficulties they have and how much effort Iran has made to interfere there; however, Azerbaijan has a strong state there that supports its people, which is why each Iranian hypocrisy gives no result. When it comes to Afghans, if they would also make such a powerful government, neither the country will be destroyed, nor will we do bad prayers for others. Thanks