Iran - Taliban Water Conflict [UPSC Notes]

The distribution of water from the Helmand River has been the subject of an extended debate between Iran and Afghanistan. In this article, you can read more about the Iran – Taliban water conflict, which can have possible ramifications for the security aspects of the region. This topic is relevant for the IAS exam international relations segment.

Iran-Afghanistan Water Dispute

Both Iran and Afghanistan depend on the Helmand River as a crucial source of water for agriculture, livelihoods, and ecosystems in the area. 

  • Iran accuses Afghanistan of violating its water rights, claiming that it receives much less water than was agreed upon in a 1973 treaty. Afghanistan, on the other hand, attributes the reduced water flow to climatic factors like the lack of rainfall.

About Helmand River
Helmand River

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  • Afghanistan’s longest river, the Helmand, measures about 1,150 kilometres (715 miles) in length.
  • It starts in the Sanglakh Range of the western Hindu Kush mountain range, close to Kabul.
  • It is the primary watershed for the Endorheic Sistan Basin.
  • The river travels through arid regions in a south-westerly direction before draining into Lake Hamun, which is located on the border between Afghanistan and Iran.
  • The largest freshwater lake in Iran is Lake Hamun, which is fed by the Helmand River.
  • The Helmand River is a crucial source of water for Iran and Afghanistan, supporting livelihoods, ecosystems, and agriculture in the area.

Water Conflict between Iran and Afghanistan (Taliban)

The 1973 Helmand River Treaty has been violated since it has not been properly approved or adequately implemented. An agreement was struck between Iran and Afghanistan to control the allocation of river water.

  • Iran accuses Afghanistan of abusing its water rights, stating that it receives much less water than was agreed upon in the 1973 deal. Iran has regularly accused Afghanistan of violating its water rights.
  • Afghanistan disputes Iran’s claims, attributing the current situation to climatic variables including decreased rainfall and diminished river water levels. Afghanistan has denied Iran’s claims.
  • Tehran expresses worry over Afghanistan’s plans to build irrigation systems, dams, and reservoirs along the Helmand River, foreseeing a negative impact on water flow into Iran.

Iran – Taliban Water Conflict:- Download PDF Here

Related Links
Inter-State Water Disputes Tribunals Inter-State Water Disputes UPSC Infographic
Indus Water Treaty Teesta Water-Sharing Agreement
Inter-State Water Disputes in India National Water Mission


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