Security

Fatemiyoun rally near Afghan border amplifies fears over future activity

By Ali

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Fatemiyoun fighters in military fatigues attend a August 14 conference in Mashhad, Iran. [File]

KABUL -- A recent gathering of the Fatemiyoun Division in Mashhad, Iran, near the border with Afghanistan, has reignited concerns over the group's future activities in the country.

The Fatemiyoun Division is a militia made up of Afghans funded, trained and equipped by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and has an estimated strength between 12,000 and 14,000 fighters.

In addition to Fatemiyoun leaders and fighters, the heads of Iraqi, Lebanese and Bahraini Shia extremist groups that receive IRGC support attended the August 14 gathering.

"We will not be satisfied until we achieve the expulsion of the United States from the region and revenge for the death of [IRGC Quds Force commander Maj. Gen.] Qasem Soleimani," said Sayed Ilyas, a senior commander of the Fatemiyoun Division, summarising the apparent objective of the gathering.

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Sayed Ilyas, a senior commander of the Fatemiyoun Division, speaks at the Fatemiyoun gathering in Mashhad, Iran, on August 14. [File]

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A number of special messages were read to the participants of the Fatemiyoun conference on August 14 in Mashhad, including from Bahraini Shia leader Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassem, pictured here, and the cultural attaché of Lebanon's Hizbullah militant group, Sheikh Akram Barakat. [File]

But observers say the many speeches and statements during the gathering, ones that are often repeated by Fatemiyoun and Iranian regime media outlets, were a public cover for what Iranian leaders are really planning for the thousands of hardened Fatemiyoun fighters returning from war in Syria.

"This army of Mujahideen, for the sake of God, has very big goals and will not stop its jihad until ... the creation of a new Islamic civilization, the realisation of which was one of the pivotal orders of [Iran's Surpreme Leader] Imam Khamenei," continued Ilyas.

Nasra al-Shammari, the Assistant Secretary-General and official spokesperson for Harakat al-Nujaba, an Iran-backed Iraqi militia, told the Fatemiyoun gathering that part of the next phase in revolution was the "complete destruction of Israel and the expulsion of the United States and its mercenaries" -- a term that Fatemiyoun uses to describe the government in Kabul and Afghan forces.

"There are serious concerns that after the end of the war with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the Iranian government will send Fatemiyoun fighters to Afghanistan to pursue its military and political goals and use them against the interests of the United States and the Afghan government," said Abdul Qader Kamel, a political analyst in Herat city.

It is possible that the Fatemiyoun fighters will take part in the Afghan war and play a major role in killing Afghans and destroying the country's infrastructure, Kamel said.

In general, the Fatemiyoun Division is a serious threat to the security of Afghanistan and the region, he said.

"By using Fatemiyoun, Iran tries to harm the interests of United States and its allies in Afghanistan," said Sayed Ashraf Sadaat, a civil society activist in Herat city.

"The Fatemiyoun are heavily under the influence of the Revolutionary Guards, and Iran can use them in its proxy wars wherever it wants to," he said.

Activities in Afghanistan

Authorities in Herat have received reports that some illegal armed groups have been active in the province, a situation that has caused concern and angered local residents, said Kamran Alizai, chairman of the Herat Provincial Council.

"Our request of the government is to deal with these groups that have the support of foreigners seriously and decisively," he said. "If these groups are not stopped, their activities will increase day by day."

No illegal armed group supported by a foreign country or organisation will be allowed to operate in Herat Province, said Jilani Farhad, spokesman for the Herat governor, adding that security forces have the situation under control.

Security forces will deal firmly with any group that seeks to disrupt the security of Afghanistan and its people and pursue the objectives of foreigners, he said.

Even members of the Taliban, a rival of the Fatemiyoun Division, have raised concerns over the group.

Members of the Fatemiyoun Division have been placed in Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Bamiyan and are pursuing Iranian objectives in Afghanistan, said Mullah Manan Niazi, the deputy commander of a Taliban splinter group under the leadership of Mullah Muhammad Rasool in Herat Province.

"We have identified the objectives of the Fatemiyoun Division in various provinces [of Afghanistan]," he said. "By creating the corrupt Fatemiyoun group, Iran is trying to start a civil war in Afghanistan."

Through formation of terrorist groups like Fatemiyoun, the Iranian regime has lit the fire of sedition in the region, as it has done in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, Niazi said.

"The Fatemiyoun Division is a serious threat to Afghanistan, but we will destroy it and will never allow it to operate," he said.

Exploiting poverty of the Afghan refugees

The latest fears over the Fatemiyoun Division come as the IRGC lures Afghan refugees in Iran to join the group with false promises of Iranian citizenship and of large sums of money.

Contrary to all human rights conventions, the IRGC even recruited children into the Fatemiyoun Division, a number of whom have lost their lives fighting for the Iranian proxy war in Syria.

All Afghans who have joined the Fatemiyoun have gone to war out of poverty or compulsion, said Hasan Hakimi, a civil society activist in Ghor Province.

Tehran has taken advantage of their poverty and difficult situation by involving them in its political and military game, he said.

"I spent two days with a former Fatemiyoun fighter who was sent to the war in Syria and is living in Kabul," Hakimi said. "He told me that the Iranian government paid him €400 (36,000 AFN) monthly to go to war in Syria."

If they were not suffering from severe poverty, none of the Fatemiyoun members would have agreed to fight for Iranian objectives in Syria or in any other country, he said.

"The Iranian government has promised Fatemiyoun fighters huge sums of money, housing and citizenship and will keep repeating its false promises as long as it can use these fighters," he said. "But when the fighters are killed or stop taking part in the war, it does not fulfil its promises."

In 2017, the Afghan government, taking issue with Iran's exploitation of Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries, called for the dissolution of the militia.

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No country’s interference in the affairs of other country can bring stability, but it practically creates differences and discords in that country. Whether al-Qaeda, ISIS or Fatemiyouns, all of them will sow discords in a country where ethnic conflicts are still at its peak. The new generation does not defend any terrorist group that endangers the current interests of the country, even if they belong to any ethnic group. They stand against them, because all the ethnicities suffer from poverty and are misused by the foreigners and corrupt neighbors. We know very well that all external insider groups, even if they are Afghan, are not to the interests of the government and nation, but they are playing a destructive role in the country.

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Brother! Why are you blaming Iran? Let us see in our own country that the government has nominated Abbas Basir, who got his master’s degree in the field of the study of Ashura, as the Minister of Higher Education. It is better to know Iran’s social and intra-government supporters in order to invite them to the personal and formal mourning ceremony.

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The United States withdrew from Iraq, and handed over the power and Iraq’s ruling regime to the Iranian-supported groups, and it will do so in Afghanistan as well. The nearer the time gets to the withdrawal of the American forces from Afghanistan, the more these groups become strong, and it shows the fact that Americans are indirectly strengthening these groups, because they can preserve the long-term interests of the United States in the region.

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After Pakistan, Iran will turn into a very dangerous enemy to Afghanistan. If Iranian interferences are not prevented, Afghanistan will once again become a battleground for sectarian strife, especially between Shiites and Sunnis.

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(2) the best way to counter against Fatemiyoun terrorist group for America and other countries who are against Iran's terrorist and expansionist policies is to invest in building electricity dams in Afghanistan and especially in the provinces located near the border with Iran. Water is the best weapon that should be used against Iran. This same work can be done with terrorists' main father (Pakistan) too; however, if America has intention for it.

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In fact, Americans themselves, and especially Trump Administration have played the major role in proving the term 'mercenary' used for Afghan government. For example, they [Americans] deprived it [Afghan government] from participation in Qatar talks, they interfered in the results of elections and forcibly imposed Abdullah on Ghani, and they prevent giving punishment by the government to criminals of Shoray-e-Nizar and the former Northern Alliance. They prevent execution of the persons sent by Pakistan to launch suicide attacks and arrested by the army and police. A good example is that, why there are ten and twenty thousand Taliban, ISIS and other criminals in the prisons of Afghan government, while there are only one thousand government employees in Taliban's prisons? It means that Taliban immediately kill those whom they arrest in the fighting; however, the government brings them and gives them good food to make them fat like sheep and as they are freed they go back to the battlefield for fighting. When asked why they don't punish the criminals? Why they don't execute the killers? They say that Americans do not let them do so. When so, then how you define a mercenary and powerless government? Another point is about Fatemiyoun's terrorist group. If Americans want, they can use these terrorists as hand-grenades as an enemy throw toward its rival, and the second party throws it back to the thrower before it is detonated. If Americans want, they can give $500 and $600 instead o

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Fatemiyoun group is considered a big threat for the future of Afghanistan. If the government of Afghanistan ignores them and not make a serious decision about this group, security of Afghanistan will be destroyed.

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Fatemiyoun Division will pose a major threat to Afghanistan's future security, and we strictly ask the Afghan government to be fully prepared to fight against the group.

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It is a reality that the Iranian government will use the Fatemiyoun group for its own goals in Afghanistan, because it has invested on this group and by using the group, it undermined the opponents of Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria. And these forces also had a lot of achievements in Iraq. Now that the situation in Syria and Iraq has improved and most of these groups have come back to Iran from those countries, Iran will try to return these forces to Afghanistan and use them for its sinister purposes in Afghanistan. Even Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, the leader of Taliban's splinter branch, is also aware of this, and a few days ago, he warned Fatemiyoun fighters in a video clip that he would kill all of them if they show any movement. Niazi also said that he kills dozens of them inside Afghanistan every day. The Afghan government must try not to attack Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi's men, and it should support Taliban’s splinter branch against Fatemiyoun and Taliban and provide them with facilities. I think Abdul Manan Niazi's group is far better than Afghan local police in terms of ensuring security, because this group has brought security on all the highways of Herat and they kill dozens of Iranian thieves and spies every day. This group neither does corruption, nor oppresses anyone nor rapes, but it always tries to eradicate corruption.

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If this Taliban group is as good as you said, then why they not join the government? Mullah Niazi catches and kills only civilians and travelers on the highways. He and his decadent group have not encountered any Fatemiyoun groups so far. If Fatemiyoun groups are in Afghanistan or they operate here, Niazi’s group will look for the mice hole. This group fights only against the innocent travelers. The group has not become engaged in war at all, and its fighters are fleeing mountain by mountain because of the National Army Forces.

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