Taliban rejects Iran’s warning over Helmand River water rights, Iranian FM hits back

The Taliban has rejected Iran’s warning on the country’s water rights over the Helmand River and the accusation that the group is limited the flow of water into Iran.

The Iranian President, during a visit to the country’s southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, warned the Taliban that the group must fulfil its obligations on delivering Iran’s water rights from the Helmand River.

“I am issuing a warning to the rulers of Afghanistan, that they should immediately give the water rights of the people of Sistan and Baluchistan,” Raisi said. Adding that “You [the Taliban] should take my words very seriously so that you won’t complain later.”

In a statement posted by the group’s longtime spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, on Thursday, the Taliban said that it remained committed to the 1973 treaty which commits Afghanistan flowing twenty-two cubic meter of water per second into the Iran.

The Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan has recently complained that Iran receives less than four per cent of its share from the Helmand River.

Iran has called on the Taliban to release the Kajaki Dam, which it believes the group is not being truthful about its capacity.

Ebrahim Raisi’s warning came after the Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s, who called the Taliban let the Kajaki Dam open “before it is late”.

The Taliban, in its statement, said that “Iranian officials should first complete their knowledge about water in Helmand and then present their requests with appropriate language.”

Late on Thursday, the Iranian Foreign Minister responded to the Taliban’s statement on Twitter and said that “In recent months, I have repeatedly asked Amir Khan Muttaqi to fulfil their obligations in accordance with the treaty and let a technical team to measure the water levels… the water level can be determined by technical investigation, not political statements.”

However, the Iranian Space Agency spokesperson has said that it has observed the state of water flow in the Helmand River and accused the Taliban of water diversion to avoid it getting to Iran.