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Iran and the Taliban after the US fiasco in Afghanistan

Authors: Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Hamidreza Azizi

Affiliation: Afro-Middle East Centre, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).

Organization/Publisher: Middle East Institute

Date/Place: September 22, 2021/UK

Type of Literature: Foreign Policy

Word Count: 2336


Keywords: Iran, Afghanistan, Taliban, U.S., China



Post-American withdrawal from Afghanistan poses opportunities and challenges to Iran, and provides an example for the importance of its regional strategic approach. For Iran, recent events would lead to further American setbacks, as local pro-US elements can no longer hitch their bets on constant US support and the proposition that resistance is the most effective self-preservation policy. Other potential gains could be the facilitation of better Iran-China economic relations, giving both powers a way to maneuver around the US pressure that was exerted through Afghanistan. On the other hand, Iran faces potential risks of the Taliban persecuting Afghanistan’s Shia minority, which threatens Iranian credibility as protector of the Shi’ite world. Moreover, regional actors such as Pakistan, Qatar and Turkey have prominent roles of redefining the regional geopolitical theatre. Finally, if the Taliban fails to secure power, it will open a hostile eastern frontier filled with militants such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. To summarize, Iranian policy makers hope for better chances to anchor the security of its eastern frontier, solidify its regional “Axis of Resistance” activity and to facilitate economic lanes that circumvent US sanctions. However, Iran approaches these opportunities with caution, as risks are still highly present.


By: Omar Fili, CIGA Research Assistant



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