Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Taliban interim government and one of the leading figures of the Taliban, Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, spoke to “Afghanistan International” television about the tension between Iran and the water sharing on the Hilmend River, which has intensified in recent days.
Stating that they are loyal to the agreement signed in 1973 on water sharing between Afghanistan and Iran, Stanekzai noted that there has been a strong drought in the country in recent years, but if there is enough water, Iran will get the share it deserves.
“If there is water, we will give its rights”
Stanekzai stated that dams, like military zones, are private and national issues of each country, and responded to the Iranian government’s request for a technical committee affiliated to them to conduct inspections on Kaceki Dam as follows:
“No country allows another to conduct inspections at sensitive points such as dams. They also do not allow us. We cannot allow them to conduct inspections at Kaceki Dam in any way. They got the right to water even this year.”
Stanekzai underlined the importance of solving the problem through dialogue, stating that drought and water scarcity are a global problem and therefore Iran should not magnify this problem.
Iranian authorities made a harsh statement
Iranian President Ibrahim Reisi and Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Emir Abdullahiyan, who visited the province of Sistan-Baluchestan on Iran’s border with Afghanistan last week, used harsh expressions by stating that the Taliban side did not comply with the water agreement.
Taliban Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, in response to Iranian authorities, stated that Iran’s stance could harm bilateral relations, and stated that harsh statements should not be made over the press.
Following the aforementioned statements, Iran sent a delegation to Afghanistan, and water and border issues were discussed in the talks.
Water crisis between Iran and Afghanistan
The water problem on the Hilmend Waterway between Afghanistan and Iran was resolved with the agreement reached in 1973.
Under the agreement, Afghanistan had committed to supply 26 cubic meters of water per second “under normal conditions” to Iran from the Hilmand River. While 22 cubic meters of this was defined as “Iran’s right to water”, 4 cubic meters was designated as Afghanistan’s “goodwill indicator” towards Iran, but the “normal conditions” expression in the agreement does not cover periods of water shortage or drought.
For this reason, the decrease in the amount of water flowing to Iran due to the drought in Afghanistan in recent years began to disturb the Tehran administration. The two countries, which have frequent dry periods, face each other because of the water problem, although they express their commitment to the agreement signed in 1973.
While the Taliban administration argues that the amount of water in Keceki Dam and Kemal Han rivers on the Hilmend River has decreased due to the drought in the region, Iran states that a technical committee should visit the dams and confirm this situation.