An Iranian lawmaker on Sunday suggested Tehran shut down Afghanistan’s Taliban-run embassy in protest over the country’s failure to provide Iran with its share of water from the Helmand River.
Amid ongoing tensions over water, Fada-Hossein Maleki, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said a task force within the Supreme National Security Council is considering new measures to put pressure on the Taliban for water. These measures include closing the embassy and reducing political, commercial, and economic interactions through various means.
“We have many tools at our disposal that we can utilize for these purposes,” he noted, as quoted by Iranian media.
According to Iran International, Maleki called for stricter measures against the Taliban and said that Iran should not appease them. “We have given them whatever they wanted, even compromising the relations between our Persian and Pashto speaking friends, who say demands by the Taliban are being accommodated one after another by Iran,” he said.
“We are witnessing a distressing situation in the Sistan and Baluchestan region, where villages are gradually becoming deserted,” he said, adding that the villagers’ grievances need to be addressed – that being to solve the water issue.
Tensions have been simmering for months between Iran and the Taliban after Tehran accused the Taliban of violating a 1973 water treaty by blocking the flow of water in the Helmand River to Sistan and Baluchistan province that borders southern Afghanistan.
However, the Taliban has repeatedly said due to drought the water level in the Helmand River is too low to supply Iran with the required amount of water.
The treaty states that Iran is entitled to 820 million cubic meters of water from the river annually, but Iranian officials have said that it only received 27 million cubic meters in the past year.