Delhi and Tehran can work together on Afghanistan

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Source: Indian Express

Relevance: India and Iran can work together to restore order in Afghanistan

Synopsis: Ensuring a legitimate and peaceful rearrangement in Afghanistan is of common interest to both India and Iran.

Indo-Iran co-op on Afghanistan

Delhi and Tehran are trying to find common ground amid the deepening crisis in Afghanistan. Following events indicate growing frequency and intensity of contact between the two establishments:

  • India’s External affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, stopped over in Tehran on his way to Moscow where he held consultations with Iranian foreign minister. The external affairs minister also had the privilege of being the first foreign dignitary to be received by the president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi.
  • Tehran has invited India to participate in the swearing-in ceremony of Raisi on August 5.

Shared geography with Afghanistan has always made Afghanistan an important subject of mutual interest for India and Iran.

But, that was not always the case.

Evolution of Iran’s Afghan view
  • In the 1970s, Delhi was deeply concerned by the joint efforts of Iran (under the Shah) and Pakistan to destabilize Afghanistan.
  • Iran turned inwards after the Islamic revolution of 1979 and was stuck in a debilitating war with Iraq in the 1980s.
  • It was only in the 1990s that the Islamic Republic of Iran looked towards Afghanistan and by the middle of the decade found itself on the same side as India.
  • If Delhi was alarmed by the Taliban’s capture of Kabul with the support of the Pakistan Army, Tehran was animated by the groups’ Sunni extremism and its oppression of the Shia and Persian-speaking minorities in Afghanistan.
  • Delhi and Tehran made common cause with Moscow to support the so-called Northern Alliance that was fighting the Taliban.

Moscow now seems eager to embrace the Taliban.

Iran’s future Afghan policy
  • As it intensifies the engagement with Iran, Delhi should expect that Iran’s views might not be completely unanimous with its policy. Sharing a long border with Afghanistan, Iran is eager to keep its channels of communication open with the Taliban.
  • India, in contrast, does not share a physical border with Afghanistan and can afford to wait.
Common ground

Delhi and Tehran have a common interest in ensuring a legitimate and peaceful rearrangement of the current order in Afghanistan.

  • Neither India, nor Iran, wants to see the restoration of the Taliban’s hegemony over Afghanistan.
  • They also have a stake in preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism.

They can pool their resources to help the current Afghan government against the Taliban’s offensive backed by Pakistan.

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