US President Donald Trump's new ‘Afghanistan and South Asia’ policy identifies Pakistan and India as key players but ignores or minimises other influential regional actors with vested interests in Afghanistan, including China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Unless the US better integrates their interests, any regional approach to Afghanistan's stability and security is unlikely to succeed.

With his announcement of a new ‘Afghanistan and South Asia’ strategy last month, US President Donald Trump aimed to supply a much-needed wider regional approach towards the future of Afghanistan. The strategy explicitly identifies Pakistan and India as key players in relation to Afghanistan. But it also ignores or minimises other influential non-South Asian regional players with vested interests in Afghanistan, most notably China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The failure of this new US policy to fully consider the interests of these countries is conspicuous and problematic. Although in some areas they have differing priorities or competing interests in relation to one another or the United States, unless the US embraces and to some extent integrates their interests, any regional approach to Afghanistan’s stability and security is unlikely to succeed.

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