How to Stabilize Afghanistan

What Russia, Iran, and the United States Can Do

Afghan soldiers taking a break in Baghlan Province, March 2016.  Omar Sobhani / REUTERS

The Afghan military, backed by some 8,400 U.S. troops, is struggling to shore up its ranks after a devastating attack killed over 100 soldiers on a military base in Mazar-i-Sharif, marking a morbid beginning to another summer fighting season. This time around, though, the Afghans and their American partners have two more forces to contend with: Russia and Iran

Both countries stepped up their support of the Taliban over the winter, possibly as a hedge against persistent American indecision about how deeply to stay involved, and for how long. Left unchecked, Russian and Iranian support could enable the Taliban to win the long-term occupation of a provincial capital this summer, which would further erode Afghan government legitimacy. To head off such an outcome, the new Trump administration must consider an approach that brought some success in the aftermath of the 2001 U.S. invasion: rebuilding a regional consensus with Russia and Iran—

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