Security

Tehran foments chaos in Afghanistan with support for rival militant groups

By Sulaiman

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Taliban militants gather as they celebrate the peace deal with the United States in Alingar District, Laghman Province, March 2. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFP]

KABUL -- The Iranian regime is playing a dangerous game of deception by simultaneously supporting two opposing groups -- the Taliban and the Fatemiyoun Division -- to cause instability and chaos in Afghanistan.

"Iran's support for the Taliban and Fatemiyoun fighters, who are politically, religiously and ideologically opposed to each other, shows that Iran is pursuing and managing a policy of anarchism and crisis in Afghanistan so that it can achieve its security, economic and political objectives," said Kabul-based political analyst Aminullah Shariq.

The Fatemiyoun Division is a militia made up of Afghans funded, trained and equipped by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Tehran at the same time has admitted its ties to the Taliban and its opposition to the peace process.

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A contingent of Fatemiyoun fighters climb a hill in Syria in this undated photo. [Fatemiyoun Division]

"Iran is playing a dangerous game in Afghanistan to achieve and maintain its strategic interests," said Shariq.

"Iran has been working for years to destabilise Afghanistan and uses any means available to achieve this objective. It supports any group that ensures Iranian interests."

Tehran's interests were once aligned with supporting and equipping the enemies of the Taliban, which it used to do, he said. "But today it is supporting the Taliban to achieve its strategic goals and interests."

"Another reason behind Iran's simultaneous support of two opposing sides is to ensure that its interests are protected in southern and eastern provinces where the Taliban are in power, as well as in central provinces, a mostly Shia populated area, through the Fatemiyoun," he said.

"We see that the IRGC has invested heavily in operatives and destructive groups, using Afghans within both Fatemiyoun and the Taliban for its interests in Afghanistan and the region," said Ibrahim Rahimi, the director of the Commission of the National Cohesion of Political Parties, Social Organisations and Civil Society Institutions in Kabul.

"Iran has provided financial and military support to groups involved in wars in Afghanistan in the past 40 years in an effort to help install its puppet regime in Afghanistan, and now, with concurrent support to Fatemiyoun and the Taliban, it wants to achieve this goal," Rahimi said.

Making deals with terrorists

"Iran will do any illegal thing to secure its goals and interests," said Fazel Menallah Mumtaz, a Kabul political analyst.

"It sheltered the family of Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaeda network, it had a role in toppling the Taliban regime, and now, even though the Taliban killed its diplomats during their rule [in Mazar-e-Sharif in 1998], it provides financial and military support to the Taliban and Fatemiyoun, two enemies, to achieve its interests."

"Iran supports [Lebanon's] Hizbullah, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Fatemiyoun and other paramilitary groups to achieve its goals," Mumtaz said. "To gain control in Afghanistan and the region, it makes deals with terrorists."

"By supporting two opposing groups, it wants to destabilise Afghanistan like Syria and Lebanon so it can control parts of Afghanistan through Fatemiyoun, similar to western Lebanon, and some other parts through the Taliban," he said.

"Iran has been providing military and financial support to the Taliban in the western and southwestern zones for years," said Abdul Sattar Hussaini, a member of the Wolesi Jirga representing Farah Province.

"Right now, as we speak, IRGC commanders are leading groups of 15, 30 and 100 Taliban [fighters] in the western provinces [of Afghanistan], he said. "They are actively involved in fighting security forces."

"IRGC commanders are involved in assassinating Afghan commanders and soldiers in the western zone," Hussaini said. "Afghan security forces recently discovered seven sticky mines with Iranian markings intended for assassinations."

"By simultaneously supporting Fatemiyoun and the Taliban, two extremist and destructive groups, the IRGC is trying to harm the security, political and economic situation in Afghanistan," he said.

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Iran's influence is like cancer for Afghanistan which demolishes the whole body. If the influence of Iran is not avoided in Afghanistan, Iranians will destroy Afghanistan.

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Iran’s politics is based on political-religious ideology, and it includes radicalism. The Iranian government is a great enemy of civil and democratic freedoms in this country and a great source of danger and insecurity for its neighbors. Iran interferes in Afghanistan and supports Taliban.

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The Islamic Republic of Iran has maintained its dominance and influence over the Fatemiyoun Division, and it is even probable that Iran deliberately returned them to Afghanistan to fight as the regime's proxy forces in Afghanistan for Iran's interests in the future. The Islamic Republic of Iran is deeply worried about the influence of ISIS inside this country. The Islamic Republic of Iran knows that some Sunnis in Iran feel very close to ISIS. For this reason, when ISIS forces established a base inside Afghanistan and near the Iranian borders, Tehran quickly expanded its ties with Taliban and by distributing weapons to Taliban, it kept ISIS away from its borders. With the start of the negotiation chapter and signing of the peace agreement between the United States and Taliban, some Taliban fighters who are dissatisfied with the agreement may join ISIS. Reports indicate that the leader of the ISIS group is currently recruiting fighters in northern Afghanistan. The joining of Taliban fighters to ISIS brings the group back to power. In such a situation, Tehran needs a strong proxy group in Afghanistan that should also be very loyal to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For this reason, Fatemiyoun forces are mobilizing and organizing themselves inside Afghanistan.

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The Fatemiyoun Division fighters are made up of Shia Afghans and took part in the Syrian conflict under the supervision of the forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They have the experience of bloody wars in Syria. If they return to Afghanistan and the majority of them do not find jobs and professions, it is presumed well that a confrontation between ISIS and the Fatemiyoun Division in Afghanistan is very likely.

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Construction of dams by the Afghan government on the borders with Iran has made Iran very concerned, and for the past twenty years the Iranian government has been trying to prevent the construction of dams in Afghanistan. The Iranian regime is supporting terrorist groups in Afghanistan to disrupt the reconstruction process in Afghanistan. You have seen over the past few years that some engineers at Afghan dams on the borders with Iran have been attacked by unidentified gunmen. This shows that Iran is not pleased with building of dams in Afghanistan, and the president of Iran made it clear that he would not remain indifferent to the construction of Afghanistan’s dams; therefore, Iran itself cannot interfere directly in Afghanistan. Iran has to support some groups against the Afghan government to achieve its goals.

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