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MPs Demand Action Regarding Afghan Anti-Iran Demo

Anti-Iran demonstration in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 09, 2017.

In a written parliamentary reminder, two MPs have asked Iranian ministers of Interior, Intelligence, Defense and Foreign Affairs to take appropriate action against a recent anti-Iran demonstration in Kabul during which protesters angrily chanted slogans and burned pictures of the founder of the Islamic Republic, ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

The MPs, Alireza Mahjoub, representing Tehran and Nader Qazipour of Urmia have not elaborated further, but, apparently, they were referring to a protest march in Kabul, on July 9.

Dozens of protesters chanted anti-Iran slogans and burned a banner depicting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at a public park in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, July 9, 2017.

Demonstrators were carrying pictures of Khomeini, Khamenei and Rouhani captioned as “Satan”.

The protest was over remarks Rouhani made at a July 3 international conference in Tehran, on preventing or minimizing dust storms, that was critical of regional water management and dam projects.

“We cannot stand idly by against what is destroying our environment,” Rouhani said at the conference, insisting, “Construction of numerous dams and weirs in northern and southern Afghanistan has had a negative impact on our provinces of Khorasan and Sistan-Baluchestan.”

Immediately after these comments, Afghan officials accused Rouhani of misleading the public. “Afghanistan is consuming its water resources according to international laws and Tehran-Kabul water treaty (1973),” said the deputy spokesman of Afghanistan’s president, Najibullah Azad.

“Eighty percent of Afghanistan water flows into its neighbors’ territory, particularly into Iran and Pakistan”, Azad maintained.

The anti-Iran demo was reportedly sponsored by Afghanistan’s National Cooperation Party, ANCP.

Chairman of ANCP, Najibullah Kabuli, while addressing the protesters, accused President Rouhani of interfering in Afghanistan internal affairs.

Moreover, Afghan Energy Minister Ali Ahmad Osmani accused Iran of creating water shortage and environmental problems in his country.

“Through unhealthy management of water resources, Iran has forced Afghanistan to face 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.”

However, anti-Iran demonstrations were not limited to the capital, Kabul.

On July 9, hundreds of demonstrators peacefully marched through the streets of Lashkargah, capital of Helmand province near the Iranian border. They chanted, “Death to Hassan Rouhani” and “Death to enemies of Afghanistan.”

Vanished wetlands in endorheic Sistan Basin near the Iran-Afghanistan border.
Vanished wetlands in endorheic Sistan Basin near the Iran-Afghanistan border.

The protesters called on President Ashraf Ghani’s government to not be deterred by the Iranian warning and to implement water management and storage projects along Afghan rivers.

“We can continue living brotherly, but the use of the things that belong to us is our immediate right. We need our waters; we need electricity, irrigation and greenery. Thus, we should be the first ones to use our rivers,” English daily Afghanistan Times wrote in an editorial published four days after comments made by Rouhani at the international conference in Tehran.

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 visited Kabul on May 7.