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.
Although Afghanistan is predominately Sunni Muslim (80 percent, roughly 27 million people), it does have a sizeable Shia minority, which accounts for nineteen percent of the population or roughly 6.2 million people.
The Hazara, a Persian-speaking ethnic group which is concentrated mainly in central Afghanistan, with major communities present in western Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, constitutes a large portion of Afghanistan’s Shia.
During the anti-Soviet resistance year, while the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan tended to back mainly Sunni-fundamentalist Pashtun mujahideen groups, like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami, Iran generally supported Persian-speaking or Shia groups, mainly among the Hazara.
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.
The Baluch are another ethnic group that lives in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
The Baluch constitute two percent of the Iranian population or roughly 1.3 million people.
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.