'Iran is our enemy', says Afghan general
HERAT -- Iran has two-faced policies towards the Afghan government: while it pretends to be a friend of the Afghan people, it is in fact an enemy, said Gen. Nurullah Qaderi, the commander of the 207th Zafar Corps of the Afghan National Army.
"We have an external enemy, and we are struggling on many fronts," Qaderi told Salaam Times. "We share a 290-km border with Iran, a country that we call our friend, but on the contrary, Iran is our enemy."
Among a number of issues, Qaderi comments stem from Iran's continuing support for the Taliban.
Revenge against the US
Iran is supporting the Taliban in pursuit of its own objectives in Afghanistan, local analysts and officials say.
"The Iranian government has influence on the Taliban and utilises them in the western zone [of Afghanistan]," Mohammad Rafiq Shahir, a political analyst in Herat Province, told Salaam Times. "Iran interferes in Farah Province because of serious rivalries between Iran and Western countries, especially the United States."
The Iranian government is trying to sabotage the United States' interests by supporting the Taliban, said Dadullah Qane, a member of the Farah Provincial Council.
The planned construction of Bakhshabad Dam in Farah Province and US sanctions against Iran mean that Tehran cannot remain indifferent, he told Salaam Times.
One of the ways Iran interferes in Farah is by allowing the Taliban to capture border checkpoints between the two countries, he said.
Water scarcity brings conflict
Iran's interests also lie in maintaining the water supply to its eastern provinces, which it fears the future Bakhshabad Dam could threaten, analysts say.
Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, have previously said that building dams in neighbouring countries, including Afghanistan, is unacceptable.
The Iranian government cites the needs of its eastern provinces as justification for preventing construction of Bakhshabad Dam, Shahir said.
"Water is an important subject for Iran. In the past, Afghanistan did not have a strong enough government to protect its water resources," he said.
"Now that the first water projects are being implemented by the Afghan government, however, it is a very sensitive issue for Iran... the eastern parts of Iran have been dealing with severe drought, and many protests have started because of water scarcity," he said.
In late July there was a three-day sit-in protest outside the Iranian embassy in Kabul.
Members of the movement erected a tent outside the embassy and posted a number of banners on the embassy's concrete blast walls.
"To the people of Iran! Your government is equipping militant groups in Afghanistan," one banner read.
"To the people of Iran! Our water is saving your lives, but your government is taking our lives," another poster read.
Iran targets Pakistan
Iran has also been playing a "double game" with Pakistan.
In the most recent example, Iran has cut off the power supply to Balochistan's coastal areas, in what many say is Tehran's way to send Pakistan a message. The resulting chaos has inflamed local anger against the Iranian regime, and has badly damaged the business sector in the area.
Iran is also continuing plots to sabotage and undermine the much anticipated Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline despite consensus among all four participants on the project.
Iran continues to recruit Pakistani Shia into the proxy militias of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Reports suggest that up to 12,000 Pakistani and Afghan Shia have been recruited into the IRGC's Zainabiyoun Brigade and Fatemiyoun Division to fight in Syria, other hotspots in the Middle East and beyond.