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A Rock Between Hard PlacesAfghanistan as an Arena of Regional Insecurity$
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Kristian Berg Harpviken and Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190627232

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190627232.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 February 2021

The Persian Gulf and Afghanistan

The Persian Gulf and Afghanistan

Iran–Saudi Competition

(p.97) 4 The Persian Gulf and Afghanistan
A Rock Between Hard Places

Kristian Berg Harpviken

Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the security dynamic within the Persian Gulf, and the involvement of its constituent states – particularly Iran and Saudi Arabia – in Afghanistan. Following the 2003 US intervention in Iraq, the security dynamic within this complex effectively became bipolar, characterized by the antagonistic relations between Iran, a rising power with hegemonic regional ambitions which is using the conflict over nuclear capability to its advantage, and a more insecure Saudi Arabia, which is forced to rely on the security guarantees of external powers against both regional and domestic threats. Global powers, in turn, are used by Iran and Saudi Arabia for the purposes of pursuing their own rivalry. Afghanistan becomes a terrain over which Iran and Saudi Arabia project their ideological and economic ambitions and seek security safeguards. Each competes to shape Afghan domestic politics and future governance, in large part by attempting to curb the influence of the other. They use their connections with various ethnic and religious groups, propagating their distinct religious doctrines, increasing economic ties and attempting to influence insurgent groups. At the same time, both seek legitimacy and relevance by maneuvering to become part of the solution to the Afghan security problem.

Keywords:   Persian Gulf, Middle East, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Regional Security, Regional Cooperation

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