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Abdullah Team Under Fire For Khomeini Tribute

Passions have been inflamed in Afghanistan after a running mate of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah (right) was photographed commemorating the death of former Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. (file photo)
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah and his campaign team have come under fire for commemorating the death of Ayatollah Rohullah Khomeini -- the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Abdullah's second vice-presidential running mate, Mohammad Mohaqeq, a former Hazara warlord, was pictured alongside supporters in Kabul paying tribute to the former Iranian supreme leader during the 25th anniversary of his death on June 4.

Afghans, many of them deeply suspicious of Iran, have reacted angrily on Twitter.

Others described the gathering as "shameful" and criticized Abdullah's team.

There were also some who suggested Abdullah's team was inflaming ethnic tensions ahead of a high-stakes run-off on June 14.

The commemoration of Khomeini's death every year by Shi'ite leaders and groups in Afghanistan is usually accompanied by protests, both by Shi'a and members of the country's Sunni majority.

Many Afghans are mistrustful of Iran and blame the Islamic republic of meddling in the country's internal affairs and exerting its influence through political parties, media outlets, and Shi'ite religious schools.

Afghans also bemoan Iran's past actions in Afghanistan. After the defeat of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the collapse of the subsequent regime in Kabul in the early 1990s, Afghanistan's neighbors -- particularly Iran -- funded, armed, and trained their Afghan proxies to gain regional leverage -- a move that helped fuel the country's descent into civil war.

Tehran supported Shi'ite and Persian-speaking groups, including those of Abdullah and Mohaqeq.

And some Twitter users have accused the two of still being under Tehran's thumb.
-- Frud Bezhan

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