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.”