- KABUL -- The US-led coalition
forces in Afghanistan are working on a military base near the country's
western border with Iran.
- Locals told the Pajhwok news agency that US forces have
been sketching and surveying the land for two months for a 300-hectare
airbase in the desert area of Holang, in Ghorian district of Herat
just 45 kilometres from the Iranian frontier.
- Some military commentators believe the development could
be linked to rising tensions between the United States and Iran, but the
US military and the Afghan government say the base is being built for the
Afghan National Army.
- The Combined Forces' Command in Kabul confirmed that
it is building the base, but strongly rejected the suggestion that it would
be only for the coalition forces.
- "The US government is building a military base in
Ghorian in order to provide transportation facilities for the Afghan
Army," the press office told Pajhwok on Saturday. It declined to
on whether the base might be seen as a threat by Iran, or how long it would
take to complete the project.
- The US Provincial Reconstruction Team in Herat said the
base would be used for training Afghan National Army soldiers.
- There has been no reaction from Iran so far. "We
will express our view after contacting relevant authorities inside my
who will assess this issue," Mohammad Ali Najafi, the Iranian consul
in Herat, said.
- A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in Kabul said
it was not aware of this issue. The presidential spokesman, Javid Ludin,
commented: "The coalition forces have the permission to act against
terrorism and for the peace and stability of Afghanistan, and to build
a base for that purpose."
- He added that no action will be taken without agreement
from the government.
- Some believe the construction of a base that close to
the border could provoke Iranian opposition.
- "Creation of a base in a place completely dominating
Iranian airspace could provoke an argument from Iran," said Gen Nader
Azemi, a commander of the ANA in Herat. But he praised the action as good
for security in Herat, in addition to providing full control over the
border of Afghanistan with Iran.
- Local residents confirmed that the US military has been
working on a base, with some of them supporting the plan, but others fear
the US forces. nni