Taliban makes $35m investment in Iranian Chabahar port

A delegation of high-ranking Taliban officials has visited Iran to sign a deal to invest in the Chabahar port in the country’s south, local media reported.

Iran International English on X: "The Taliban has commenced work on  “various projects including commercial, residential, and administrative  ventures, backed by a $35 million investment" in the Iranian port city of  Chabahar,

The move surprised many, considering strained political ties between Tehran and Kabul since 2023, which have involved deadly border clashes and disputes over water distribution from the Hirmand River.

On Monday, the Shargh daily reported that despite these tensions, the Taliban wants to invest $35m in commercial, residential, and governmental projects in the Chabahar port and the Chabahar Free Economic Zone.

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According to the report, the Taliban’s investment will be used in the Fakher construction project, a 25-story high-rise.

Chabahar sees increase in traffic as Taliban backs trade via port - Times  of India

This marks the first time Afghan businessmen are investing in a government-led construction project in Iran, though Iran did invest in Afghanistan before the Taliban’s return to power in 2021.

The Shargh daily quoted a Taliban official, stating that their goal for such investment was to pave the way for their landlocked country to access international waters.

Meanwhile, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan, announced that the two countries were working on opening a transit corridor through India and China.

“Afghanistan is a virgin country for investment, and we insist on developing their agriculture. We are interested in investing in their mining industry,” Qomi was quoted as saying.

Chabahar Port - Plutus IAS

Despite Iran being one of Afghanistan’s main economic partners and the Taliban reopening its embassy in Tehran in February 2023, Tehran has not officially recognised the Taliban as the country’s legitimate government.

Blinded protester handed prison sentence

Hossein Hosseinpour, a protester blinded with metal pellets by Iranian security forces during the 2022 Mahsa Amini demonstrations, was sentenced to a year in prison because of his writings on social media about the injury.

On Friday, the Human Rights Activities News Agency (HRANA), reported that the sentence was handed down to Hosseinpour for engaging in “propaganda against the establishment” on Instagram.

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Intelligence officers arrested Husseinpour, who is of Kurdish origin, in September and he has since been kept in different prisons in the Fars province.

According to HRANA, he was denied treatment for his blinded eye and suffered from an eye infection in prison.

During the 2022 protests, security forces widely used metal pellets and rubber bullets against protesters, leaving hundreds dead.

At the time, a group of 140 ophthalmologists raised serious concerns about the rising number of protesters who suffered from eye injuries because of the use of metal pellets by Iranian security forces.

Economic crisis hits the poor hard

The Etemad daily, in a feature story, showcased the situation homeless people and workers face in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Tehran, where a group of Iranians are organising  weekly food distribution on Wednesdays.

Railways To Connect Afghanistan With Chahbahar Port, Claims Taliban |  Afghanistan International

Titled “The Feast of Hunger”, the article was written by veteran journalist Banafsheh Samgis and gave insight into the lives of those who waited for hours in line to receive a warm meal.The report said the number of people depending on food donations has been on the rise over the last year, as economic hardships increasingly affect ordinary Iranians.

The labourers Samgis interviewed explained that for several days they ate only bread to survive and any time they found a job they sent the payments to their families in smaller cities they had come from.

Ali Heidari, the lead organiser of the food distribution, told the daily that the establishment exerts pressure on workers not to talk to the media about their suffering.

Iranian press review: Taliban makes surprise $35m investment in Iranian  port | Middle East Eye

“I publicly spoke about people dying of hunger, and the health ministry filed a complaint against me, saying that those were addicts who died of overdose,” Heydari told the daily.

“I told them to come with me and I’ll show them those who are dying of hunger… I told them that these ones die because they have no money to even buy a piece of bread,” he added.

The Iranian press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified by Middle East Eye

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