Implications of Taliban’s Border Disputes

For the past few days, the Taliban have been attempting to exploit the controversy surrounding the issue of Hirmand water rights in order to stir up nationalistic sentiments among a portion of Afghan citizens for their own benefit, as well as to send a message to certain Western countries that Afghanistan can be used as a proxy for war with Iran. These tensions, particularly in regards to a heated conflict between the border guards of the two countries, have set off alarms, and the most damage is being inflicted upon the people of the two countries, particularly the people of Afghanistan, who are in a more vulnerable position. In the short term, the situation of millions of Afghan refugees, who were forced to flee the country due to the Taliban war and the conditions following the rule of this group, will become direr, and in the long term, the two neighboring countries, which have mutual needs, will be in a hostile relationship, which will only benefit the adversaries of this region.

The Taliban’s approach to regional issues further demonstrates the complexity and potential for crisis that this group possesses. It is well known that during the two decades of the republic, the Taliban were sustained by the intelligence of the region, with Pakistan’s intelligence and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps playing a particularly prominent role. This support, which included providing safe havens, training fighters, supplying combat equipment, intelligence gathering and intelligence assistance, enabled a terrorist insurgent group to become a major regional actor. This situation prompted the major powers to become interested in engaging with the Taliban, leading to their representatives being invited to Moscow and the subsequent Doha Agreement. Consequently, the Taliban have been able to survive due to the money and support it has received from regional and global sources.

It is important to consider that a group with a terrorist background has a long way to go before becoming a conventional and responsible government, and its supporters cannot easily alter its nature. Such a group, which derives its identity from violence, murder, terror and suicide and has a fraternal relationship with all extremist and terrorist groups in the world except ISIS, cannot be a reliable partner in regional and international interactions.

This group has been a long-standing adopted child of Pakistan’s intelligence, yet it supports the TTP group and has been known to send troops across the border. It has strong ties with China, yet it shelters East Turkestan fighters in Afghanistan and provides them with logistical support. It appears to be friendly with the Central Asian countries, yet it hosts the insurgent groups of those countries. It has always been supported by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, yet it has embraced the extremist fighters against the Iranian government. As a result of the American negotiations in Doha, it gained international recognition and the Taliban leaders have since been receiving large sums of money, yet it has an organic link with Al-Qaeda and anti-American forces. The border conflicts with Iran have demonstrated that such a group is only used to create crises in the region, not to establish constructive relations. Only the presence of a legitimate and popularly supported government in Afghanistan can contribute to the stability and security of the region and prevent the escalation of crises in this part of the world.