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It has sought greater influence over the government in Kabul, and remains wary of the U. The reviewers assert that: “The more stability and development in Afghanistan, the more secure will be Iran’s interests” and express—with confidence—that Iran can “secure its interests in Afghanistan despite foreign competition.” But to better understand Iran’s Afghanistan policy, two recent events are illuminating: o During the winter of 2008-2009, when the lack of electricity became one of the major news stories in Afghan media, and public outrage against the ministry of Water and Power was at its peak, the Iranian Embassy announced selling 25 million liters of oil at cheaper price to Afghanistan to help with Kabul’s electricity supply.(It is worth noting that the minister of Water and Electricity—Ismael Khan—has a history of close ties to Tehran.) o In January 2009—during the same winter Iran forcefully deported over 8000 Afghans in one week in the midst of a cold winter.

The Kabul based daily Hasht-e-Sobeh (8 AM) observed that the forceful deportations were a part of Iranian policy to illustrate to the U. that Iran can make life hard in Afghanistan, especially, the paper noted, after President Obama did not respond to Mahmud Ahmadinezhad’s letter.

Under the auspices of the UN, Tehran participated in the Bonn Conference, and was instrumental to the final agreement, which established the Afghan Interim Authority in December 2001.

The Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran coincided with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Entangled with domestic problems, estrangement with the United States over the hostage crisis, and later the war with Iraq, Khomeini’s regime maintained relations both with the Soviet Union and its satellite regime in Kabul.

In 1988, Iran strengthened and united several of these Hazara factions into the Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami or Islamic Unity Party, and Tehran continued to support the organization during the Afghan civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.

Wary of a Sunni-fundamentalist Pashtun state on its eastern border, Iran viewed the rise of the Taliban in 1994 and their seizure of Kabul in 1996 as a serious security, ideological, and economic threat.

The Afghan provinces of Herat, Farah, and Nimruz border Iran.

Iran and Afghanistan share several religious, linguistic, and ethnic groups that create cultural overlaps between the two countries.

The Hazara make up roughly nine percent of Afghanistan’s population or 2.9 million people. Fifty-eight percent of Iranians or 38.2 million speak Persian, while half of all Afghans or 16.3 million speak one of several dialects of Persian (Dari).

The Turkmen population in Afghanistan is concentrated mainly along the northern border with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Incensed at the killing of its citizens and the Taliban’s horrific treatment of Shia minorities, Iran amassed a quarter of a million troops along the border with Afghanistan and threatened to invade.

Ultimately, a military confrontation between Iran and the Taliban was averted.

The Baluch are another ethnic group that lives in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

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