Taliban Tells Iran It is Committed to Sharing Helmand Water Rights, But On Condition of Increased Rainfall


The latest: Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban’s foreign minister said on Monday that the group is committed to the water rights of Iran from the Helmand River, however, he conditioned the compliance to the agreement with increased rainfall.


Go deeper:

  • “We hope to see more rainfall this year, and this blessing will lead to a surge in water reserves, enough to meet the needs of both Iran and Afghanistan,” Muttaqi said.
  • He added that the Taliban respects Iran’s right to the Helmand River and that the Taliban government does not want to “cause problems for Afghanistan’s neighbours” in the water sphere.
  • Taliban has blamed the water shortage as the reason for not releasing the appropriate amount of water due to drought.


Back story: Earlier, the Iranian foreign minister told the representative of the Zabol constituency in Sistan and Baluchestan province that, “Iran is serious about materializing the Iranian people’s water share from Hirmand (Helmand River), and this issue has been one of the main topics of discussion between me, the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Afghanistan and the Ministry of Energy, with Afghanistan in bilateral and multilateral meetings, including the recent meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries in Samarkand.”

  • “The current Afghan governing body officials have declared to us their commitment towards Iran’s water rights and we seriously expect them not to fail in this regard as a sign of their abiding by the commitments to international agreements and we expect them to let us see water enter the province,” he added.

Take note: There have been at least four protest rallies that have been held in the past few months. The Iranian officials have repeatedly emphasised that the Taliban are committed to providing the share of Iran from Helmand water rights.


Backstory: Iran and Afghanistan have been locked in a long-running water dispute for decades. The two sides signed a water-sharing treaty in 1973, under which Afghanistan pledged to allow the flow of water from Helmand into Iran.

  • The agreement has never been fully implemented as Iran’s share of the water has steadily dwindled due to excessive irrigation and dam construction in Afghanistan.
  • Iran believes that it does not receive enough water from the Helmand River as specified in the contract.
  • On February 2022, the Taliban had announced that the group fully accepts Iran’s claim of water rights, but despite Iranian official’s repeated statements that the water rights of Iran from the Helmand river have not been given, the Taliban have not reacted so far.


Zoom out: After months of back and forth in diplomatic discussions between Iran and the Taliban, finally, the Taliban side has given more clarity to Iranians that they are not ready to release more water from the current water share which Afghanistan has. The Taliban foreign minister’s bold statement regarding the increase in rainfall and that there will be more water for Iran, seems to showcase that the group has finally made their decision to be more vocal in terms of managing Iranian’s expectations from their Taliban friends. That’s why, it seems that in the near future, at least in public, we may expect more rollercoasters in Taliban-Iran relations.

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