A crowd protesting outside Iran's consulate in Herat on April 11, 2022

A crowd protesting outside Iran's consulate in Herat on April 11, 2022

Iran, Afghanistan Tensions Rise As Migrant Wave Continues

4/12/2022

Tehran on Tuesday summoned the Afghan chargé d'affaires to protest an attack on its consulate in Herat on Monday and halted consular services in Afghanistan.

According to a statement published on the its website, the ministry's director-general for South Asia told the Afghan chargé d'affaires that Tehran will not resume its consular services before receiving assurances from Afghan authorities over protection of its diplomatic missions in Afghanistan. The Iranian official also demanded punishment of those behind the attack.

Protesters on Monday set fire to tires in front of the Iranian consulate in Herat, pelted the building, burned the Iranian flag, and destroyed security cameras. Taliban forces reportedly dispersed the angry Afghan crowd by firing shots in the air.

According to Afghanistan's TOLOnews, dozens of Afghans protested against Iran in Kabul and the south-eastern province of Khost. A banner carried by protesters in Kabul Monday said "Stop Killing Afghans" while another said Afghans will never forget the mistreatment of their compatriots in Iran. A video published on Twitter by Afghanistan's Aamaj News shows protesters marching in front of the Herat consulate and chanting "Death to Iran".

Tensions between Iranians and Afghans have risen since last week’s killing of two Shiite clerics at Imam Reza shrine, Mashhad, reportedly by an Afghan national.

Following the attack some videos began circulating on social media to portray mistreatment of Afghans by Iranians. The videos alleged that some Afghans had been verbally, physically, and sexually abused by Iranian mobs, border guards and police. The authenticity and time of the videos cannot be independently verified.

In an interview with Afghanistan's TOLOnews on Monday, the Iranian envoy to Kabul, Bahador Aminian, claimed that the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a group based outside Iran and considered as a terrorist group by Tehran, was behind the dissemination of the provocative videos on social media to ruin Tehran-Kabul relations.

Tasnim news agency which is affiliated to Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) on Monday claimed that "western-backed" political groups in Afghanistan were behind the recent events and have called for more protests against Iran in the coming days.

At his weekly press briefing on Monday, after the attack on the consulate in Herat, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said the influx of Afghan refugees to Iran cannot continue considering Iran's limited capacities and urged the Taliban to exercise responsibility and to protect Iranian diplomatic venues in Herat and other Afghan cities.

Khatibzadeh also said there were plots by "certain ill-wishers" to foment Iranophobia in Afghanistan and Afghan-phobia in Iran.

The Taliban foreign ministry on Friday said it had summoned officials of the Iranian embassy in Kabul in connection with "abuses against Afghan refugees in Iran" following the recent stabbing of Iranian clerics in Mashhad.

Last week Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said since the Taliban took power in August last year one million more Afghans have entered Iran, bringing the number of refugees and economic migrant to five million.

Thousands of Afghans fleeing the economic hardships under the Taliban enter Iran daily from official border points or illegally from other areas along the 900 km border to find work in Iran to support their families back home or to continue their journey towards Europe.

Some officials claim as many as 5,000 Afghans a day have been entering the country in recent months.

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