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.

The Taliban, for its part, backed Sunni Islamist militants who were launching attacks against the Iranian regime.

In 1998, Taliban forces captured Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan from Dostum and massacred thousands of Hazara civilians, in addition to nine Iranians with diplomatic credentials.

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.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.Iran subsequently pursued a sophisticated policy towards Afghanistan. The event summary broadly defines Iran’s interests in Afghanistan through the prism of: the flow of Afghan refugees to Iran who have “adverse social and economic” impact on the Iranian society; containing of “radicalism” ; and drug trafficking.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.But when a US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to overthrow the Taliban, Iran was not disappointed.