Taliban and Iran To Cooperate on Border Security as Tehran Prepares to Fence the Frontier

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN  – The Taliban’s Ministry of Defense says they are talking to Iranian authorities on enhancing border security. According to the Taliban’s Ministry of Defense statement, the two sides held talks on Tuesday, February 13, at Islam Qala, the border town in Afghanistan’s Herat province.          

Although relations between Tehran and Kabul have been improving, the two sides have had a thorny ride in the past two years. Military forces from the sides have clashed several times during that time, including last May, when an armed clash between the two sides left one Taliban fighter and an Iranian border guard dead.

As many in the region and beyond increasingly grow worried about the Taliban’s deepening ties with terror groups, Iran has settled on a more pragmatic approach. Its diplomats in Kabul have spearheaded a regional contact group to share their concerns with the Taliban.

In the meantime, Iranian military and border authorities say they are preparing to fence the 74-kilometer border with Afghanistan. Amir Kiumars Haidari, the Iranian ground forces’ commander said recently that the measure was to control movement on what has been a porous border with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Earlier, the Iranian interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, had said in the wake of twin bombing in Kerman that killed at least 84, that Iran would seal its western and southwestern border with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakistan had previously completed fencing its long border with Afghanistan, a project that took years amid objections from the previous government in Kabul.

The Taliban have not yet reacted to Iran’s decision to fence the border and it is not clear whether the meeting in Herat would help avoid that.