Drought in Afghanistan aggrevates political tensions with Iran
Afghanistan’s agricultural sector has been hit by severe draughts, whose impact is made worse by its extremely limited water storage and irrigation capacity. These environmental and infrastructural problems damage not only the Afghan economy, but spill over into heightened tensions with neighboring Iran, which many in Afghanistan believe to be supporting the Taliban. Afghan plans to increase damming and water storage of the Helmand River are strongly contested by Iran, as the river flows from the Helmand and into Iran. Earlier in 2018, the Taliban nearly overran the province of Farah on the Iranian border. Local politicians claimed that this activity was driven by Iranian support and that the efforts were part of a proxy war over water. “Iran is supporting the Taliban to disrupt developmental projects in Afghanistan, including water dams…they benefit from keeping Afghanistan unstable and want to control our resources,” said the former Afghan border police chief. This conflict underscores the potential for natural disasters and environmental concerns to aggravate or generate political disputes in many, if not most, regions of the world.