News ID: 115563
Publish Date : 28 May 2023 - 23:07

TEHRAN – Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities and neighboring Iran said Sunday deadly clashes between their border security forces had subsided, with both sides engaging in talks to ease tensions.
The skirmishes erupted in the Afghan border province of Nimroz Saturday, martyring two Iranian security forces and killing a Taliban militant, officials in both countries said.
The exchange of cross-border gunfire, initiated by the Taliban, escalated Iran’s tensions with Afghanistan amid a dispute over water resources.
On Sunday, the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted a senior official as saying that “the situation is under control” in the conflict zone near the Sasuli border post in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province.
Alireza Marhamati, the deputy provincial governor, said that “local Iranian and Afghan officials have held negotiations on the cause of the clashes and agreed to continue their talks.”
A spokesman for the Afghan interior affairs ministry said in a statement that his government “does not want to fight with its neighbors”.
Bilateral tensions have recently escalated over the Taliban’s breach of a 1973 water-sharing treaty between Tehran and Kabul by blocking water flow from Helmand River, which flows from Afghanistan to Iran’s arid eastern border regions.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, during a visit to the border province, called on the Taliban to respect the treaty, which envisions shared water resources and outlines access to monitoring of the water level. Raisi warned the de facto Afghan rulers against violating the agreement and vowed to defend Iran’s water rights.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan believes dialogue and negotiation are a good path to addressing any issue,” Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khowarazmi wrote on his official Twitter account.
The United Nations says Afghanistan and Iran have suffered from a prolonged drought, and drought conditions have worsened over the past decade.
Last week, Afghan Foreign Affairs Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, responding to statements by the Iranian officials, said that Kabul was committed to the water treaty.
Analysts warned that Afghanistan and the region at large could ill afford another conflict.
Torek Farhadi, a former Afghan official, said the Taliban would avoid a standoff with Iran. He noted that Afghanistan is fragile after 40 years of war, and four million Afghans live on Iranian soil as refugees.
“Sure, skirmishes and then a war can start with Iran, but soon Afghanistan will end up as the terrain for proxy wars with Tehran,” said Farhadi. “Arms and munitions will flow to Afghanistan to fight Iran, but the fighters would be Afghan youth, and the destruction will occur in Afghanistan. Not a good perspective.”

Iran has retained its embassy in Kabul along with nearly two dozen neighboring and regional countries since the Taliban seized power nearly two years ago, but it has not recognized the new Afghan government nor has the world at large.
The Taliban’s restrictions on women’s right to education and work as well as a lack of political inclusivity in their government have deterred the international community from granting them legitimacy.
Iran’s Ground Force commander Brigadier General Kioumars Heydari on Sunday visited the border with Afghanistan in Sistan-Blouchestan province. 
He said the border is completely under the control of Iran’s ground force, and fully calm.
Heidari said the presence of senior military commanders at the border does not mean that a danger is threatening the country, adding it is for making sure that security is established at the borders.
Meanwhile, an Iranian lawmaker called for a “decisive action” following the unprovoked attack by armed Taliban forces on the border outpost in southeastern Iran.
“Yesterday, the tension caused on the border with Afghanistan resulted in the martyrdom of two [Iranian] border guards,” MP Muhammad Vahidi told an open session of the parliament on Sunday.
“Of course, this issue should be investigated on the order of the parliament speaker at the National Security Committee, and according to the approach that exists at the state level, there is a need to take special measures and a decisive response,” he added.
Vahidi said bad actors see the Iranian people’s kindness and compassion and wrongly assume that they can trespass on borders and kill Iranian border guards.
He lamented “unguarded remarks” occasionally uttered by the current rulers of Afghanistan which are “not acceptable at all.”
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