An aerial view of Hirmand River, known as Helmand in Afghanistan

Iran's Quest For Water From Afghan River Hit By New Delay

Wednesday, 02/28/2024

Iran's quest for an agreement with Afghanistan to share water from the Hirmand River has been hit by a new setback despite the Islamic Republic’s desperate need for the resource.

The river, known as Helmand in Afghanistan, plays a pivotal role as a critical source for agriculture and drinking water.

Negotiations peppered with disputes between Iranian authorities and the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan have gone on for months.

Now a further delay has pushed back the schedule for any agreement to share the waters from the river which originates in the Afghan mountains.

Reports from Iranian media in November highlighted the Kabul government's failure to allocate any portion of the Hirmand River's water to Iran, sparking concerns about water scarcity in the region.

Ali-Mohammad Tahmasbi, advisor to the head of Iran's Department of Environment, revealed a verbal commitment from Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Acting Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs of Afghanistan during discussions in Tehran, suggesting that Iran would receive water from the Hirmand once conditions permit.

Hassan Kazemi Qomi, President Ebrahim Raisi's special envoy for Afghan affairs, expressed cautious optimism, aiming for water entry from the Hirmand into Iran by October 2024.

However, he acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the new timeline, citing unsuccessful negotiations between Iran and Afghanistan over the Hirmand water dispute.

Despite Iranian claims of an agreement with the Taliban to allocate 820 million cubic meters of water annually, no formal confirmation has been provided, and no water has been directed towards Iran over the past two years.

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