Iran’s foreign minister arouses Afghan anger

Iran’s foreign minister arouses Afghan anger
File photo shows members of Iranian-backed Afghan militia Al-Fatemiyoun brigade on Dec. 10, 2016 during their posting in Syria. (Tasnim News Agency)
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Updated 21 December 2020

Iran’s foreign minister arouses Afghan anger

Iran’s foreign minister arouses Afghan anger
  • Afghans say Tehran provoking sectarianism by suggesting Fatemiyoun militia ‘help’

KABUL: Senior Afghan analysts on Sunday criticized comments by the Iranian foreign minister, where he suggested fighters from Fatemiyoun, an Iranian militia made up of Afghan Shiite migrants, could help in Kabul’s fight against Daesh.

The Fatemiyoun Division is considered to be under the Quds Force, the branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) responsible for overseas operations, which the US and many other countries consider a terrorist organization.

Tabish Forugh, an Afghan scholar based in the US, said Afghanistan should not “risk provoking unnecessary sectarian violence in the country.”

He added that Kabul could not under any circumstances recruit IRGC militias used as mercenaries in the wars of the Middle East.

Speaking on a local Afghan TV channel Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “These (Fatemiyoun) are the best forces. If the Afghan government so decides, they can help the Afghan government to fight against Daesh.”

Afghan government officials refused to comment on Zarif’s interview, which follows a series of bloody attacks claimed by Daesh in Kabul in recent months in which scores of people, many of them Shias, have been killed.

Zarif’s comments come amid peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban in the face of a planned withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan by next spring.

He defended the creation of the Fatemiyoun network by the Iranian regime, which is accused of bringing in tens of thousands of Shiite fighters from countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight in Syria. Iran denies this.

 The Fatemiyoun Division was sanctioned by the US last year.

 “We need peace, not overtures for the use of mercenaries,” Shafiq Haqpal, an analyst, told Arab News.

“Suggesting such an idea is like adding fuel to a flame that can become a big fire eventually. We do not want Afghanistan to become another Syria or Iraq.”


China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace
Updated 8 min 56 sec ago

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace
  • China has repeatedly complained about US Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea

BEIJING: The United States often sends ships and aircraft into the South China Sea to “flex its muscles” and this is not good for peace, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after a US aircraft carrier group sailed into the disputed waterway.
The strategic South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade flows each year, has long been a focus of contention between Beijing and Washington, with China particularly angered by US military activity there.
The US carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt and accompanied by three warships, entered the waterway on Saturday to promote “freedom of the seas,” the US military said, just days after Joe Biden became US president.
“The United States frequently sends aircraft and vessels into the South China Sea to flex its muscles,” the foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, told reporters, responding to the US mission.
“This is not conducive to peace and stability in the region.”
China has repeatedly complained about US Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all have competing claims.
The carrier group entered the South China Sea at the same time as Chinese-claimed Taiwan reported incursions by Chinese air force jets into the southwestern part of its air defense identification zone, prompting concern from Washington.
China has not commented on what its air force was doing, and Zhao referred questions to the defense ministry.
He reiterated China’s position that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and that the United States should abide by the “one China” principle.
Biden’s new administration says the US commitment to Taiwan is “rock-solid.”
The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is the democratic island’s most important international backer and main arms supplier, to China’s anger.