| 8 December 2023, Friday |

Afghanistan calls for ‘diplomatic’ resolution with Iran after border skirmishes

An Afghan official informed Arab News on Monday that the Taliban government has urged Iran to address bilateral issues “through diplomatic channels.” This statement comes as tension along their shared border has eased after skirmishes over the weekend.
At least one Taliban officer and two Iranian border guards were killed on Saturday after shooting broke out near a border post between Afghanistan and Iran, with officials from the two countries accusing each other of opening fire first.

The incident came amid a dispute over water rights to the Helmand River, which flows from Afghanistan into Iran’s arid eastern regions, as the neighbors face worsening drought exacerbated by climate change.

“We don’t want relations with our neighboring countries to deteriorate. Our request to all neighboring countries, including Iran, is to resolve these issues through diplomatic channels,” Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Arab News.

“The current situation is normal. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is never in favor of escalation.”

Officials have yet to provide details on what provoked the incident, in which several people on both sides were also injured.

It occurred after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned the Taliban earlier this month not to violate Iran’s water rights over their shared Helmand River, as laid out in a bilateral treaty signed in 1973.

Water rights are among other issues the two countries faced since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021, including previous skirmishes at the border and reports of mistreatment against Afghan refugees in Iran, which has for decades hosted millions of them.

In a report published on Monday, state-run IRNA news agency quoted Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi as saying that “there is no problem at the present time” and that “everything is calm” at the Afghan-Iranian border.

Gul Mohammed Qutrat, a police spokesman in Nimroz, said problems at the border have been addressed.

“Currently, the situation is under control,” he told Arab News. “There is no tension at all at the border.”

  • Arab News