Afghanistan and its neighbourhood: the Wider Central Asia Initiative

In 2012 SIPRI launched an initiative to promote dialogue among the main stakeholders in Afghanistan’s future. The stability and security of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its wider neighbourhood is a key issue for the region and for the international community. With the impending 2014 withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force, new policy approaches based on a clear understanding of the fast-changing situation in the region are required.
UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein

A particular focus of SIPRI’s Wider Central Asia Initiative is how regional security can be strengthened or developed through formal institutions and informal mechanisms to address the existing and emerging security challenges. As a part of this work, SIPRI has consulted with the Government of Afghanistan as well as bringing together experts and officials from Afghanistan’s regional neighbours—the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and five Central Asian states: the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, the Republic of Turkmenistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan.

By bringing together key actors from the region in structured dialogues, and by providing independent analyses of the problems at hand, SIPRI hopes to provide policymakers with recommendations that could contribute to the strengthening of regional policies that support durable stability and security in Afghanistan and its neighbourhood. The initiative is supported by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Expert comment

29 July 2013: The challenges ahead for Iran's new President

by Bruce Koepke
The election of cleric Hassan Rouhani as the seventh president of the Islamic Republic of Iran confirmed both the unpredictability and the enduring adaptability of Iran’s political landscape. Rouhani, who will be officially endorsed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on 3 August, faces a number of immediate challenges, including bridging the gap between Iran’s political factions and addressing the impact of sanctions.

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  • Relations between Afghanistan and Central Asian states after 2014: Incentives, Constraints and Prospects

    Nargis Kassenova
    SIPRI Report, May 2014

    This report explores the policies of Central Asian states toward Afghanistan. The author argues that the Soviet-era isolation of Central Asian states from their neighbours has been broken, and that opportunities for business, educational and people-to-people links will only increase.
  • Iran's Policy on Afghanistan: The Evolution of Strategic Pragmatism

    Bruce Koepke
    SIPRI Report, September 2013

    Iran could continue to play a constructive role after the withdrawal of international forces in 2014. In this report the author details the evolution of Iran's policy of strategic pragmatism in Afghanistan. 
  • Europe, Afghanistan and the Transatlantic Relationship after 2014

    Erik Brattberg
    SIPRI Report, May 2013

    As the December 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan approaches, NATO's future footprint in the country will be markedly smaller. This report explores the importance of ISAF to the alliance between Europe and the United States. 

    Download the paper.

  • Decoding Pakistan's 'Strategic Shift' in Afghanistan

    Moeed Yusuf
    SIPRI Report, May 2013

    When in early 2012 Pakistan touted a major shift in its Afghan policy, the move was cautiously welcomed. This paper asks exactly what Pakistan's 'strategic shift' entails, what are the motives behind it, and whether it opens any new opportunities for peace in Afghanistan.

    Download the paper.


recent events
  • 18 October 2013, Beijing

    Fourth Regional meeeting

    In collaboration with the China Center for Contemporary World Studies (CCCWS), organized a one-day workshop in Beijing entitled 'Security in Afghanistan and its Neighbourhood: The Regional Dimension of Stability after Transition’.

    Workshop participants included both international and Chinese officials and experts, who presented their views on how Afghanistan and the wider region will evolve following the expected drawdown of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in 2013. The participants shared their perspectives on China's interests, policies and role in respect to achieving stability in Afghanistan and overcoming related regional challenges.

    China will host the next Ministerial Meeting of the 'Heart of Asia' Istanbul Process in 2014, and the workshop addressed how China could play a constructive role in the region and promote dialogue through this process.

    The workshop was the fourth of a series of regional meetings conducted as a part of the SIPRI Wider Central Asia Initiative, which is designed to examine the regional impact of the security transition underway in Afghanistan. The initiative is conducted with financial support from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • 16 May 2013, Brussels

    Launch of two analytical papers

    SIPRI held an event to launch two analytical reports. The first addresses Pakistan's policies towards Afghanistan and the interests and perspectives that are shaping their approach in the region. The second, with a transatlantic theme, explores the possible future role for Europe within the context of the Transatlantic community in Afghanistan.


Dr Neil Melvin, Armed Conflict and Conflict Management Programme, biography

Theresa Höghammar, Armed Conflict and Conflict Management Programme, biography