Photo: Fars News

Islamic State leaders have moved to Afghanistan from Iraq and Syria, Iranian foreign minister claims

The Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, has claimed that the Islamic State (ISIS) leaders and its experienced fighters have been moved from Iraq, Syria, and parts of Libya to Afghanistan in recent months.

According to Iran’s Fars News Agency, Abdollahian said that the transfer of ISIS leaders to Afghanistan poses a challenge for the Taliban.

Abdollahian highlighted the importance of Afghanistan’s stability for Iran, as they share a 900-kilometer border with the country. Any instability in Afghanistan could directly impact Iran’s border areas.

The Taliban has repeatedly denied the presence of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan, but the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) estimates that ISIS has between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters in the country.

Regarding the recognition of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Iran’s Foreign Minister reiterated that Tehran will not recognize the Taliban government unless it forms an inclusive government that represents all ethnic groups in the country.

Abdollahian added that he has repeatedly told the Taliban’s foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, that no group in Afghanistan has been able to maintain a stable political system without the participation of other ethnic groups.

On the matter of Iran’s water rights from the Helmand River, Abdollahian said that, according to the 1973 treaty, Iran is entitled to receive its water rights. The Taliban initially promised to address this issue, but they have not fulfilled their promise.

He added that to address Iran’s water rights issue, his country, and the Taliban agreed on two approaches. Firstly, Iran’s technical team will visit the Kajaki dam to assess the availability of water. Secondly, Iran will utilize its own facilities to check the water level in the dam and on its route.

The longstanding dispute over Iran’s water rights from the Helmand River has fueled tensions between the two countries. A 1973 treaty obligated Afghanistan to provide Iran with a flow of twenty-two cubic meters per second, but Iran has continuously voiced dissatisfaction with the fulfillment of this commitment.