Afghanistan urges Iran to halt use of its nationals as mercenaries in Syria

Afghanistan urges Iran to halt use of its nationals as mercenaries in Syria
The Afghan government says it opposes any kind of proxy war in the Middle East. (AP)
Updated 08 January 2018

Afghanistan urges Iran to halt use of its nationals as mercenaries in Syria

Afghanistan urges Iran to halt use of its nationals as mercenaries in Syria

KABUL: Afghanistan has called on Iran to stop sending Afghan refugees as mercenaries of its proxy war in Syria, after it was revealed that more than 2,000 Afghan combatants had been killed in the war so far.
“The Afghan government opposes any kind of proxy war. As we dismiss proxy war in Afghanistan, we announce our opposition to proxy war in other countries as well,” Shah Hussien Murtazawi, chief spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, told Arab News.
“The blood of this country’s sons should not be spilt to further the goals and expansionist designs of a few countries ... Afghan sentiments and vulnerabilities should not be exploited for their (Iran’s) goals and objectives.”
In a rare confession, an Afghan official with the “Fatemiyoun Brigade,” which is composed of Afghan Shiites recruited in Iran, at the weekend said that more than 2,000 Iranian-trained members of the force had lost their lives in support of Bashar Assad’s regime.
The official, Zohair Mojahed, who was quoted initially by Iranian media and later became a source for Afghan press too, said that more than 8,000 Afghans had been wounded during Syria’s five-year war.
Afghanistan, which has been locked in four decades of war and foreign interventions, said Iran needed to stop the practice.
Iran has not denied sending Afghan Shiites to war in Syria and Iraq. More than a million Afghan nationals, displaced by their country’s long war, have been living in Iran for decades.
To lure the Afghan refugees, Tehran has offered a series of concessions, such as accommodation, long-term stays in Iran and monetary concessions, in return for taking part in its war in the Middle East, according to former Afghan combatants.
Analyst Matiullah Kharoti said that Iran had used Afghan refugees to fight in its war against Iraq in the 1980s and in its current conflict in the Middle East by offering them incentives. “They are not fighting a sectarian war in the Middle East, but Iran is exploiting their desperation and poverty,” Kharoti told Arab News.
Murtazawi said Kabul was aware of the issue and was addressing it. It was hoping to see a result from its push to end the sending of Afghan refugees living in Iran. “We are in contact through various channels with the neighboring country (Iran) so that this matter is pursued. Talks are underway to get a conclusive outcome,” Murtazawi said.


Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile
Updated 22 min 43 sec ago

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile
  • The country’s fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a new administration since the last one quit
  • Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai said at his Sunday sermon that the situation in Lebanon was now “tragic”

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric has urged President Michel Aoun to set up a reconciliation meeting with Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri to form a cabinet and end the country’s political deadlock.
The country’s fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a new administration since the last one quit in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, leaving Lebanon rudderless as it sinks deeper into economic crisis.
Tensions between Aoun and Hariri, who publicly traded blame in December after failing to agree a cabinet, came to a head last week when a leaked video showed Aoun apparently calling Hariri a liar.
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai said at his Sunday sermon that the situation in Lebanon was now “tragic” and there was no excuse to further delay forming a government.
“We wish that his excellency the president take the initiative and invite the prime minister-designate to a meeting.”
Veteran Sunni politician Hariri was named premier for a fourth time in October, promising to form a cabinet of specialists to enact reforms necessary to unlock foreign aid, but political wrangling has delayed the process since.
The leaked video that circulated on social media last week showed Aoun talking to caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab about Hariri.
“There is no government formation, he (Hariri) is saying he gave me a paper, he is lying,” Aoun is heard saying.
Sources in the president’s office said the dialogue had been taken out of context and was not complete.
After the video circulated, Hariri tweeted biblical verses referring to wisdom not residing in bodies that were amenable to sin.
The souring of the relationship between Aoun and Hariri comes as the country continues to struggle with an acute financial crisis that has seen the currency sink by about 80%.
Lebanon’s health care system is also buckling under the pressure of a severe spike in COVID-19 infections. Medical supplies have dwindled as dollars have grown scarce.