Security

US announces new sanctions against Fatemiyoun Division, Syrian president

Salaam Times

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Fatemiyoun fighters pictured training in an undisclosed location in Syria in March. [File]

The US Department of State on Wednesday (June 17) announced new sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Fatemiyoun Division, a militia made up of Afghans funded, trained and equipped by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran.

The new economic sanctions are part of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, known as the Caesar Act, aimed at holding accountable those who have and are committing brutal actions against innocent civilians in Syria.

The Caesar Act, which was passed last year and took effect June 17, punishes under US law any company that works with al-Assad, AFP reported.

The measure is named after a Syrian former military photographer who fled in 2014 at great personal risk with 55,000 images of brutality in al-Assad's jails.

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Syrians walk in old Damascus in front of a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on June 16. The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, a US law that aims to sanction anyone who assists the Syrian government or contributes to the country's reconstruction, came into force on June 17. [Louai Beshara/AFP]

"Today, the Treasury Department and State Department are releasing 39 designations under the Caesar Act and Executive Order 13894 as the beginning of what will be a sustained campaign of economic and political pressure to deny the Assad regime revenue and support it uses to wage war and commit mass atrocities against the Syrian people," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement June 17.

Those sanctioned include the Syrian president and his wife, Asma al-Assad, as well as the Fatemiyoun Division, according to the statement.

"Anyone doing business with the Assad regime, no matter where in the world they are, is potentially exposed to travel restrictions and financial sanctions," it added.

For its part, the Fatemiyoun Division has been embroiled in conflicts over looted goods, money and nominal positions of power in areas where it operates in Syria.

Last month, the militia reportedly butted heads with the Syrian regime over tributes on civilians and merchants entering al-Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor Province.

The US Treasury Department in January 2019 placed the Fatemiyoun Division and the Zainabiyoun Brigade -- made up of Pakistanis -- on its financial blacklist, which aims to cut off their access to international financial networks and to choke their operations.

"The brutal Iranian regime exploits refugee communities in Iran... and uses them as human shields for the Syrian conflict," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement at the time.

"Treasury's targeting of Iran-backed militias and other foreign proxies is part of our ongoing pressure campaign to shut down the illicit networks the regime uses to export terrorism and unrest across the globe," he said.

The Fatemiyoun Division "preys on the millions of undocumented Afghan migrants and refugees in Iran, coercing them to fight in Syria under threat of arrest or deportation", according to the US Treasury.

Is Iranian influence good for Afghanistan?
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Except its own interests, no one and nothing is important for America. Undoubtedly, it will try to keep Afghanistan insecure for its own continued presence and will take the advantage of the situation. It will be good if we should think for a while who prevented the most dangerous terrorist group, Sunni extremists plus ISIS in Syria. We should make realistic judgment. Imagine the mass presence of extremist ISIS militants throughout the Middle East. God forbid if they had crossed from Syria, no living beings would have been left here now. We should not give opinion from sitting in the soft and warm mattress; we must imagine the reality. Whether Fatemiyoun fighters are good or bad people, but we shouldn’t forget their sacrifices in preventing ISIS. I don’t think that the group will cause any danger for Afghanistan, because no person will fire towards his own home (except one ethnic group). This is also an opinion.

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Thank you Pres Trump; Thank you Sec Pompeo! While acknowledging the fact that Da'esh continues killing Afghans, we should ask ourselves that what Da'esh had to do in Afghanistan. Who paved the way to Afghanistan for them? The Velayate-Faqihi regime in Iran; to be exact Ayatul-Velayeh Khamana-I, butcher Qasem Soleimani, through their mercenaries - The Fatemiyon Division. Thanks again the Trump Administration. Hamed Amin

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It is a good step that ban is imposed on the Fatemiyoun Division's criminals. The ban should be expanded in a way that their common team leader should be considered a terrorist, their entry to Afghanistan should be banned and they should be killed on the spot because Afghanistan does not need terrorists but needs experts. Fatemiyoun Division is Iranian ISIS whose work is only killing and looting.

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After the peace agreement with Taliban, the Fatemiyoun division will pose a serious threat to Afghanistan's future stability and security, because Iran has been financing Taliban in Afghanistan for the past 20 years and using the Fatemioun division in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. But now that ISIS has been defeated in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and Taliban will make peace with the Afghan government, Iran will try to keep the Fatemioun militants active in Afghanistan for its long-term goals and use them against the future government that will be formed jointly with Taliban. It's not a simple issue; first, the international community, especially the United States of America must make efforts for peace to happen with Taliban, because if Taliban make peace, a very strong government will be formed in Afghanistan, which then neither Iran nor Pakistan will be able to work for the destruction of Afghanistan. Second, it should continue its financial and military aids to the Afghan government in order to fight against Fatemyioun division. Third, it should establish production factories in Afghanistan so that the people of Afghanistan, especially thousands of Afghans not go to Iran for work and are not recruited by Iranian intelligence in the Fatemyioun division.

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