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Iran Summons Afghan Envoy, Closes Consulates Following Attack in Herat

By Kazem Sarabi April 14, 2022

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Afghans chant slogans against Iran during a demonstration in Kabul, Afghanistan, on April 12, 2022. In recent weeks, unverified videos purporting to show Afghan refugees being tortured in Iran have been published on social media, angering many Afghans. Iran has denied the accusations. / Mohammed Shoaib Amin / AP Photo

The Iranian foreign ministry has summoned the Taliban government's charge d'affaires in Tehran, following anti-Iran rallies in Afghanistan.

On April 12, the ministry delivered its "strongest official protest", saying that Iranian consulate offices will remain closed and all operations will be halted until further notice and until Tehran receives assurances from the Taliban of the "full security" of Iranian representative offices.

In a telephone conversation with Iran’s ambassador in Kabul, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called on the caretaker of Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry to accept accountability for attacks on Iran’s embassy and consulate, the ministry's website reported on 12 April.

He also warned against “plots of common enemies” of Iran and Afghanistan. 

The spokesman of Iran's foreign ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, also called on the Taliban to ensure the security of the Iranian embassy and consulates in Afghanistan.

"The complete security of the embassy and missions of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Herat and other cities of Afghanistan must be fully provided and necessary guarantees must be given for the safe operation of these missions," the spokesman said on April 11.

Iran's move came one day after Afghan protesters attacked the Iranian consulate in the western city of Herat. The protesters hurled rocks at the embassy, destroyed its CCTV cameras, and set ablaze the entrance of the Iranian Embassy in Kabul.

The protests were in response to the alleged mistreatment of Afghan immigrants in Iran, particularly after a video went viral last week purportedly showing an Afghan man being severely beaten up by Iranian security forces and other individuals.

Relations between the two countries have been strained following a recent stabbing of a Shia cleric by an Afghan national in the northern Iranian city of Mashhad on April 5, and reports on mass deportations of Afghan nationals from Iran.

In the wake of the incident, Iranian authorities called on both Afghans and Iranians to remain vigilant, claiming that the Mashhad incident was an "enemy plot" aimed at fueling violence between the two neighbors.

Iran shares a 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with Afghanistan and hosts 3.6 million Afghan refugees. Since the Taliban’s takeover of power in Afghanistan in August, hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians have escaped into neighboring Iran using informal border crossings.