06192018Tue

Iran Water Crisis Sparks Fight With Afghanistan

Iran Focus

London, 13 Jul - With Iran’s water crisis reaching boiling point, the Regime has taken to fighting with Afghanistan over shared water resources at the border between the two countries, specifically the Helmand River over which the Afghanistan government is constructing a dam.

The river naturally empties out into the Hamun wetlands on both sides of the border and the worry is that the dam could affect water flow into Iran.

However, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani decided to place all of the blame for the current Iranian water crisis on the Afghan dams (both in construction and already built).

On July 3, he said: "Building dams without studying environmental aspects is damaging for the region. If Hamun's water dries up, in addition to Sistan & Baluchistan, Afghanistan it will be in danger".

However, the Afghan Ministry of Water and Energy (MWE) responded by pointing out that Iran has built over 30 dams which affect water flow into Afghanistan.

Of course, Iran is currently facing protests over water shortages that have been plaguing the country, causing drought, dust storms, and people to abandon their villages in search for a water source.

Dominic Dudley, an expert in economics in the Middle East, wrote an op-ed for Forbes about the spat between Iran and Afghanistan in which he assessed that water may not be the main reason for the fight.

He suggested that weak economy in the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan, failed attempts at trade between the two nations and attacks on the province by militants may also be to blame.

He said: “Any damage to the environment caused by further restrictions on the amount of water travelling across the border is likely to weaken the province’s economy and could lead to more unrest.”

He also noted that the Iranian Regime is concerned about the idea of more water shortages because it would lead to more protests by the people.

He said: “Iranian authorities are more sensitive to accusations of the poor management of water resources these days, following the outcry around the near-collapse of Lake Urmia in the north-west of the country – a situation which is now only slowly being resolved. There are similar, if less well-publicised problems around the Hamun lakes, where the wetlands have nearly disappeared since the turn of the century, leading to dust storms which in turn are causing severe health problems.”

However, it does not look likely that Iran will be able to stop the construction of the new dam, given their previous transgressions against Afghanistan.

Dudley wrote: “The prospects for a compromise around the water dispute do not look particularly good at the moment, but it is clearly in both countries' interests to find a mutually beneficial solution to ease the pressure on troubled corners of their countries.”

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