Senior Fellow Ahmad Farid Tookhy published ‘Iran’s Response to the Taliban’s Comeback in Afghanistan’, an Afghan Peace Process Issues Paper for the United States Institute for Peace. Read the summary and the full paper below.
With the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, Iran will most likely see a diminishment of its political, economic and cultural influence in the country. Shia Iran is uncomfortable with the prospect of a Sunni extremist group monopolizing and consolidating power on its doorstep. For now, however, Iranian leaders have decided to engage with the Taliban while denying the group formal recognition. This counterintuitive policy is mainly rooted in the fact that Iran’s chief concern is that political instability and economic fragility in Afghanistan might help strengthen the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a group that Iran views as a more potent security threat than the Taliban. The dilemma facing Iranian leaders is that their short-term policy choices vis-à-vis Taliban-dominated Afghanistan may carry long-term risks for them. Iran’s policy of engagement with the Taliban might facilitate the group’s consolidation of power. It could also boost the position of Iran’s regional rivals in Afghanistan. This paper seeks to analyze, in brief, the drivers and implications of Iran’s response to the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan.
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is a national, nonpartisan and independent institute founded by the U.S. Congress and dedicated to the proposition that a world without violent conflict is possible, practical and essential for U.S. and global security. In conflict zones abroad, the Institute works with local partners to prevent, mitigate and resolve violent conflict. To reduce future crises and the need for costly interventions, the Institute works with governments and civil societies to build local capacities to manage conflict peacefully. The Institute pursues its mission by linking research, policy, training, analysis and direct action to support those who are working to build a more peaceful and inclusive world.
Ahmad Farid Tookhy (@FTookhy) is a Senior Fellow at IPD and has served with the United Nations in Afghanistan, Sudan and South Sudan.