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Afghan Official Blames Iran For Water Shortage

Ali Ahmad Osmani, Minister of Energy and Water, Islamic Rebulic of Afghanistan. File photo

Less than a month after a heated argument over water resources between Turkey and Iran, Afghan Energy Minister Ali Ahmad Osmani has accused Tehran of creating a water shortage and environmental problems in his country.

“Through unhealthy management of water resources, Iran has forced Afghanistan to confront a water shortage and environmental dilemmas,” Osmani said at a parliament session in Kabul on July 17.

Osmani also accused Iran of “excessive water consumption” causing Afghan water resources to “dry up.”

Recently, Iran and Afghanistan launched five special committees to agree on a document for comprehensive strategic cooperation, including management of their common water resources.

The committees were established after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s May 7 visit to Kabul.

“Iran has six water basins and constructed 600 dams, including tens of dams on its common water resources with Afghanistan,” Osmani said. “By building dams on two common water resources with origins in Iran, Iran has dried up Afghanistan’s part of the basins, whereas Afghanistan has constructed only one dam on the Heray Rud River.”

Meanwhile, Osmani declared that Kabul is ready to negotiate on the matter with Tehran.

However, Iranian officials, too, have long criticized Afghanistan for mismanaging the procedure of providing Iran with its water share.

“We cannot stand idly by when the construction of many dams in Afghanistan has a negative impact on Iran,” cautioned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on July 3.

Iran-Afghan water issues, dams. Radio Farda report (Farsi)
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“If Lake Hamoon completely dries up, dust storms would not only hit Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province, but Afghanistan would also suffer from them,” he said.

Osmani immediately responded to Rouhani by implicitly cautioning him, “Iranian officials would be better to refrain from baseless claims.”

Iran and Afghanistan have four common water basins, Qaraqum, Khaf, Petregan, and Hirmand.

Iran and Afghanistan, in spite of a water treaty signed in 1972, also have a deeply rooted dispute over sharing water from the Hirmand River as well.

“Based on article 2 of the Hirmand water treaty, Afghanistan is supposed to allow the flow of 26 cubic meters of water per second to Iran. But experts say that level of water has dropped in Hirmand River over the past few years, therefore, Afghanistan must reassess the treaty with Iran,” Afghan News Agency, Toloo, maintained.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on May 25 called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to visit Tehran and tackle the water problems as soon as possible.