Afghan’s Farah Facing Intense Rivalry

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Afghanistan’s western province of Farah, known as a strategic region given its location and proximity to Iran, has become the scene of fierce rivalry among the parties that pursue their own interests there.

Farah, one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, has become the focus of attention in recent years, particularly after several warnings from Afghan officials about the collapse of the province to insurgents.

Drawing attention for heavy clashes between the Taliban and Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) terrorist groups, Farah has been also regarded as a suitable location by foreign forces seeking to establish or maintain military bases in the province.

With an area of around 48,000 square kilometers and an estimated population of 925,000, Farah has also attracted the attention of some Arab states seeking to extend their political and economic influence in the region.

On the one hand, the Taliban, who are opposed to the policies of the Kabul government and seek to expel foreign military forces from the country, have launched several attacks against the positions of Daesh-affiliated groups in Farah, when Daesh hoisted its flag in Afghanistan for the first time in the Khak-e Sefid region.

photo courtesy of Long War Journal 

On the other hand, a number of Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have formulated plans to gain a foothold in the strategic province through economic and development projects.

In January, Turkmen officials said Saudi Arabia would make huge investment in the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, which passes through the province.

Farah also hosts bases of American and Italian military forces. Established in September 2004, Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah was the first US-led provincial team to come under International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command.

The province’s capital city lies only 120 km east of Iran’s borders.

The Taliban, who ruled the country before being ousted by a US-led invasion in late 2001, have renewed armed insurgency, launching attacks on Afghan military forces and Daesh militants.

Daesh first arrived in South Asia in 2014, using the group's substantial funds and weak local governments to cooperate with top members of the Pakistani Taliban and disaffected members of the Afghan Taliban.

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