Strong historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious affinities have bound Iran and Afghanistan within the greater Middle East region. With the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Iran is likely to face the exacerbation of existing nontraditional security challenges and the emergence of new threats. Iran continues to deal with drug trafficking, an influx of refugees and economic migrants, and terrorism caused partly by more than four decades of war in Afghanistan. Although Iranian authorities have cheered the United States (US) pullout and expressed cautious optimism about the Taliban, Tehran's choice of policy toward Afghanistan and its new rulers remains to be decided. Iran is likely to continue a policy of engagement with the Taliban unless the government in Kabul realigns with Tehran's adversaries and poses security threats to Iran. In the latter situation, Iran, resorting to proxy sponsorship, is likely to model its Afghanistan policy on its Iraq policy.
Image: i Postcross via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)