Iran’s Influence in Afghanistan: Implications for the U.S. Drawdown
Iranian influence in Afghanistan should not be a great concern for the United States. Iran and the United States both want to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming dominated by the Taliban and a safe haven for al Qaeda. A peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear crisis and the continued strengthening of relative pragmatists in the Tehran government could lead to cooperation between Iran and the United States in Afghanistan.
Tensions Between Iran and the United States May Ease. The departure of most American forces may assuage Iranian anxiety. A peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue and reduced tensions between Iran and the United States are likely to reduce Iranian incentives for aiding Taliban elements. Moderate leaders in Iran are likely to oppose arming of insurgents and instead advocate a more diplomatic approach.
- The United States should engage the Iranian government in bilateral discussions regarding Afghanistan and pursue joint activities that would serve their mutual interests and build much-needed trust.
- The United States should attempt to cooperate with Iran in countering narcotics in Afghanistan.
- The United States should encourage efforts to bring Tehran and Kabul to an agreement over water sharing.
- The United States should lend logistical or financial support to the UN-facilitated Triangular Initiative.
- Washington should encourage joint Iranian-Pakistani projects if a final nuclear deal with Iran is reached; U.S. attempts to disrupt energy cooperation between the two could be counterproductive.
- Include Iran in regional and international discussions on Afghan security, especially if Iran comes to accept any residual international force in Afghanistan.
Read more at: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR616.html