Iran Intensifies Efforts to Influence Policy in Afghanistan

(Washington Post) Ernesto Londono - Worried that U.S. troops could stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Iran is mounting an aggressive campaign to fuel anti-American sentiment and convince Afghan leaders that a robust, long-term security partnership with Washington would be counterproductive, Afghan officials and analysts say. The Iranian initiative involves cultivating closer relations with the Taliban, funding politicians and media outlets, and expanding cultural ties with its eastern neighbor. Iran's strategy in Afghanistan is reminiscent of its maneuvering in Iraq, where it helped fuel the insurgency and persuaded Iraqi politicians not to yield on allowing the Americans a small military presence beyond 2011. Tehran has also taken steps to open lines of dialogue with the Taliban and recently began allowing Taliban representatives to operate openly in Tehran and Mashhad. Iran invited a delegation from the group to a state-sponsored Islamic conference in Tehran in September.

2012-01-06 00:00:00

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