Iran Warns Taliban of ‘Strategic Loss’ over Border Dispute

Iranian military and police officials hold a joint meeting. (Tasnim)
Iranian military and police officials hold a joint meeting. (Tasnim)
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Iran Warns Taliban of ‘Strategic Loss’ over Border Dispute

Iranian military and police officials hold a joint meeting. (Tasnim)
Iranian military and police officials hold a joint meeting. (Tasnim)

Two Iranian military commanders visited a border area with Afghanistan following the heavy exchange of cross-border gunfire between Taliban and Iranian border guards, which killed and injured several.  

Taliban spokesman and Iranian state media said two Iranian border guards and a Taliban fighter were killed during the skirmish over water rights. 

The clashes occurred Saturday morning at the Sassuli border point in the Iranian province of Zabul.  

The Iranian border guards said in a statement that its forces used their intense fire to inflict heavy casualties and severe damage without giving further details.  

Taliban defense ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khowarazmi said: "Unfortunately, once again, in the border areas of Kong district of Nimroz province, there was a shooting by Iranian soldiers, (and) a conflict ... broke out."  

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers dialogue and negotiation reasonable for any problem. Making excuses for war and negative actions is not in the interest of any of the parties," Khowarazmi said.  

Commander of the ground forces in the Iranian army Kioumars Heydari and deputy commander of Iran's Law Enforcement Forces Qasem Rezaei visited the border to monitor the situation. 

Heydari said: "The common borders with Afghanistan are fully under the control of the army's ground forces... and security is fully established." 

Iranian media confirmed the reopening of the Silk Road border bridge between Iran and Afghanistan, which was closed due to the clashes.  

Rezaei asserted that Tehran would not allow any unfortunate incident on the border with Afghanistan, adding that stability has been restored.  

He accused the Taliban of using all forms of weapons without observing international laws and the principle of good neighborliness.  

Meanwhile, Assistant of Foreign Minister Rasool Mousavi said Iran must remain vigilant, warning any conflict will be a "strategic loss" for both parties. 

Iranian media reported that officials from Iran and Afghanistan had agreed to a ceasefire and the formation of a fact-finding committee. 

The Iranian parliament held an emergency meeting to discuss the tensions with the Taliban. Iran's special envoy to Afghanistan, Hasan Kazemi Qomi, attended the meeting. 

Qomi had held talks with Taliban's Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Kabul Saturday.  

Lawmaker and National Security and Foreign Policy Committee member Ismail Kothari said the dispute will be resolved through dialogue, not force. He clarified that Iran does not recognize the Taliban despite meeting with its members. 

Meanwhile, the Taliban claimed to have destroyed 18 Iranian border installations, reported Russia Today. 

It quoted a statement by the Taliban's Communications Department accusing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of carrying out the attacks.  

The clashes reflect the sharply escalating rising tensions between the two countries amid a dispute over water rights over a dam on the Helmand River. 

Last week, Iran warned that it reserves the right to take the necessary measures to protect its shares of the water. 

It accused the Taliban of violating a 1973 agreement by reducing the water flow from the river to the dry eastern regions of Iran. The Taliban denied the accusation. 

The Helmand River originates from central Afghanistan and flows over 1,000 km until it reaches Lake Hamun at the border.  

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had previously said Kabul was holding on to fulfilling its obligations but indicated that the water level had declined because of a severe drought.  



Drive to End Global Hunger Has Stalled, United Nations Warns

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
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Drive to End Global Hunger Has Stalled, United Nations Warns

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve, with the number of people suffering chronic hunger barely changed over the past year, a UN report said on Wednesday.

The annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report said around 733 million people faced hunger in 2023 -- one in 11 people globally and one in five in Africa -- as conflict, climate change and economic crises take their toll.

David Laborde, director of the division within the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which helps prepare the survey, said that although progress had been made in some regions, the situation had deteriorated at a global level.

"We are in a worse situation today than nine years ago when we launched this goal to eradicate hunger by 2030," he told Reuters, saying challenges such as climate change and regional wars had grown more severe than envisaged even a decade ago.

If current trends continue, about 582 million people will be chronically undernourished at the end of the decade, half of them in Africa, the report warned.

A broader objective to ensure regular access to adequate food has also stalled over the past three years, with 29% of the global population, or 2.33 billion people, experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity in 2023.

Underscoring stark inequalities, some 71.5% of people in low-income countries could not afford a healthy diet last year, against 6.3% in high-income countries.

While famines are easy to spot, poor nutrition is more insidious but can nonetheless scar people for life, stunting both the physical and mental development of babies and children, and leaving adults more vulnerable to infections and illnesses.

Laborde said international aid linked to food security and nutrition amounted to $76 billion a year, or 0.07% of the world's total annual economic output.

"I think we can do better to deliver this promise about living on a planet where no one is hungry," he said.

Regional trends varied significantly, with hunger continuing to rise in Africa, where growing populations, myriad wars and climate upheaval weighed heavily. By contrast, Asia has seen little change and Latin America has improved.

"South America has very developed social protection programs that allows them to target interventions so they can effectively move out of hunger in a very fast way," said FAO's chief economist Maximo Torero.

"In the case of Africa, we have not observed that."

The United Nations said the way the anti-hunger drive was financed had to change, with greater flexibility needed to ensure the countries most in need got help.

"We need to change how we do things to be better coordinated, to accept that not everyone should try to do everything but really be much more focused on what we are doing and where," said Laborde.

The report is compiled by the Rome-based FAO, the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development, its Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization and World Food Program.