Iran fuel ban targets NATO but hurts Afghans

Iran’s ban on fuel tankers crossing into Afghanistan over accusations that they are supplying NATO troops is snaring ordinary Afghans in a complex power game as living costs rise, experts say.

Some 2,000 trucks are stranded on the Iranian-Afghan border, Afghanistan’s commerce ministry says, in a standoff which has run since early December, heaping more misery on civilians in the war-torn, impoverished country.

Behind it all is Iran’s desire to strike out at the international community over its disputed nuclear weapons programme and at Afghanistan over efforts to make peace with the Taliban, according to some analysts.

NATO insists it does not use fuel which passes through Iran and that the operations of its troops in Afghanistan are not being affected.

But that is cold comfort to ordinary Afghans who, with the first snows of winter recently falling in the capital Kabul, face paying 40 percent more for fuel, plus extra for other day-to-day essentials.

The situation has caused a wave of protests outside the Iranian embassy in Kabul, including one last week when angry demonstrators reportedly pelted the building with tomatoes and eggs.

The fuel ban is playing out on the streets of Kabul, pushing prices of many goods up and hitting local people hard.