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Afghanistan and Iran are at present thirsty for each other’s blood over water. Iran 97 percent and Afghanistan 79 percent are facing drought. From quenching thirst to irrigation, both the countries are wasting every drop of water. This is the reason why they have started complaining about the water of Helmand river. The Taliban is anyway embroiled in the border dispute with Pakistan and now it has messed with Iran. Tension is increasing gradually between the two countries. Last week, there was a violent clash between Iranian soldiers and Taliban on the border, in which two Iranians and one Taliban were killed. Following the violence, Iranian authorities sealed the Milak-Zaranj border post. This is a commercial crossing, after which it is being called a clampdown on the Taliban.
In 1973, Iran and Afghanistan signed an agreement on the sharing of the waters of the Helmand River. However, despite the agreement, both sides have been embroiled for decades. This river flows from Afghanistan towards eastern Iran. Iran’s President Ibrahim Raisi earlier this month accused Taliban rulers of blocking the flow of river water to Iran’s eastern regions, saying it was violating a 1973 treaty. He will not let this happen at any cost. After this statement, firing took place at the border post between Nimroz province of Afghanistan and Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran.
Iran is repeatedly appealing to resolve the water dispute
However, the Taliban has denied Iran’s allegation. He appealed to solve the problem according to the treaty. Actually, Taliban captured power in August 2021. Since then he has remained diplomatically isolated in the world. This is the reason why it wants good relations with Tehran, but it cannot be trusted.
Iranian officials have repeatedly accused Afghanistan of flouting international laws and border protocols since the Taliban took over. Clashes have also taken place from both the sides on many occasions. Just a day before the recent border conflict, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabadolhian appealed to the Taliban to follow the law to resolve the water dispute.
What is the Afghan-Iran water dispute?
The Helmand River is more than 1000 km long and flows across the border of Afghanistan to Iran. The Taliban are being accused of trying to stop the river’s water to generate electricity and irrigate agricultural land because of the severe power crisis in Afghanistan. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, drought has been a major problem in Iran for the past 30 years, becoming worse in the past decade. The Iran Meteorological Organization says an estimated 97 percent of the country is experiencing some degree of drought.
According to the agreement between Afghanistan and Iran regarding the water of Helmand river, Afghanistan has to share 850 million cubic meters of water with Iran every year. If there is a difference between the two regarding water, then it can be resolved through diplomatic channels. Apart from this, if diplomatic channels fail to reconcile, then the issue can be resolved through a mutually elected advisory board. Iran has on several occasions opposed its decision to build dams on the river in Afghanistan.