Iran and Taliban forces clash again. What is the rivalry?

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalAug 01, 2022 | 14:04

Iran and Taliban forces clash again. What is the rivalry?

A Taliban fighter carries a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at a road checkpoint near the Bazarak district in Panjshir Province. Photo: AFP

A border fight between the forces of Afghanistan's Taliban and Iran lead to the death of one Taliban soldier and left another one injured on Sunday (July 31). The fighting took place in Kong District in Nimroz, Afghanistan.

What Afghanistan says: Mawlawi Mohammad Ebrahim Jawed, Islamic Emirate Commander in the province of Nimroz, said that it was the Iranian forces which began the fighting at Nimroz, Al Jazeera reported.

What Iran says: Iran’s state run IRNA contradicted the Taliban’s stand and said it was the Taliban forces which started the fight. It said that the fight started when Taliban soldiers entered the Iranian soil in Hirmand, located in the province of Sistan and Balochistan, and tried to raise its own flag.

It said that the Taliban once again misunderstood a wall that Iran has built to contain smugglers. The wall, it said, does not represent the actual border between the two countries. It further said that once the Afghan soldiers entered the Iran soil, Iranian forces had to intervene.

A Taliban fighter stands guard as Afghan Muslim devotees arrive to offer their Eid al-Adha prayers at the Eidgah in Kandahar. Photo: AFP

Clashes in December 2021: This isn’t the first fight between the soldiers of both sides. Since the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, many clashes have erupted between the two sides.

In December 2021, the two sides had clashed when Taliban soldiers had opened fire on Iranian farmers who had crossed the border between the two countries, Iranian news agency Tasnim reported. It also alleged that after firing, Taliban fighters had crossed several checkpoints of the Iranian territory. Both the sides suffered casualties.

The clashes came to an end after the two sides agreed to withdraw forces. Both Taliban and Iranian officials had called the incident “a misunderstanding at the local level”.

Afghanistan-Iran relations: The relations between the two countries have not been very friendly. Iran, which is Shiite country, has been at loggerheads with the Sunni fundamentalist ruled Afghanistan since decades.

  • Iran also supported the Shitte political groups that fought the Afghanistan Mujahideens from 1979-1978, a period when Soviet Union had assisted PDPA government in its formation as well as its fight against the Mujahideens in Afghanistan.
  • Though, Iran never fully supported the endeavours of Soviet Union’s takeover in Afghanistan, it did support the Najibullah’s PDPA government from 1989 to 1992, after Soviet Union had withdrawn from Afghanistan.
  • The strained relations reached a tipping point in 1998 when the Taliban executed 10 Irani diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. 
  • In 2001, when US troops defeated the Taliban soldiers, Iran fully supported the Northern Alliance. It was, in fact, one of the main reasons behind the overthrowing of Taliban. After that, Iran also strengthened its relations with Hamid Karzai government. 

What’s happening now: Since the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces in August 2021, the Iranian government has not officially recognised the Taliban rule. It says that the recognition of Taliban as the official government would hinge on “inclusive” administration.

Apart from this, the two countries have also been against each other over the Helmand river issue.

Last updated: August 01, 2022 | 15:23
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