Jul 242017
Faction Leader Claims 30,000 Afghans Fighting in Iraq, Syria

ISLAMABAD � A prominent former Afghan insurgent leader Tuesday said 30,000 of his countrymen are fighting in Syria and Iraq.“Afghans are being trained to fight at home and abroad, said Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, while addressing tribal elders in Kabul.The controversial warlord’s Hizb-e-Islami faction recently concluded a peace deal with the Afghan government to end insurgent activities and pave the way for Hekmatyar to come out of years of hiding.Hekmatyar would not discuss the source of his information on the number of Afghans fighting abroad, but suggested they are doing so only to feed their poverty-stricken families.Today, you have 30,000 Afghans fighting in Iraq and Syria. God knows better how many of them have been killed, Hekmatyar said.Decades of conflict and poverty have forced Afghans to abandon their country and travel across the globe in search of livelihood.Millions of Afghans continue to live in neighboring Pakistan and Iran while conflict continues to uproot thousands in Afghanistan. Lately, some displaced families have found the battlefields in Syria and Iraq as a source of income because of Iran.IranSome refugees in Iran, mainly Shi’ite Hazara Afghans, are reportedly being recruited and trained to fight alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria. An estimated 3 million Afghans are in Iran, including about 2 million undocumented refugees.According to media reports, it is the undocumented refugees whom Iran’s Revolutionary Guards exploit and recruit to raise militias fighting in Syria. Reports also say that in return, the volunteers’ displaced families are offered legal status in addition to getting hundreds [Read More…]

Jul 102017

WASHINGTON: Two senior Republican US senators criticised Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday for his lack of focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Graham, who visited Afghanistan and Pakistan last week with McCain, accused Tillerson of being ‘AWOL’ on the two countries and failing to fill key State Department posts. “I am so worried about the State Department,” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” A State Department official responded to the criticism of Tillerson by saying the State Department was taking an active role in a review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policy and continued to work with the White House on nominations. Tillerson in Istanbul amid Turkey-US tensions Since the exit of most foreign troops in 2014, Afghanistan’s US-backed government has lost ground to a Taliban insurgency in a war that kills and maims thousands of civilians each year. Tillerson was also scrutinised for saying that Russia may have the “right approach” on Syria. “His statements about Syria really disturb me. No, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin does not have it right when it comes to Syria,” Senator Lindsey Graham said. In separate television interviews, Graham and Senator John McCain, prominent Republican foreign policy voices, took aim at Tillerson’s remarks last week that Russia may have “got the right approach” and the United States the wrong approach to Syria. Russia has backed President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, while the United States supports rebel groups trying to overthrow him. McCain told CBS‘ “Face the Nation” that he “sometimes” regretted backing Tillerson’s [Read More…]

May 202017

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on his re-election Saturday, calling for deeper ties between Moscow and Tehran. In a telegram to Rouhani, Putin “confirmed the readiness to continue active joint work to further develop the Russian-Iranian cooperation partnership,” the Kremlin said in a statement. Putin also expressed confidence that Moscow and Tehran will continue to work in the spirit of “maintaining stability and security in the Middle East and the world as a whole” and that agreements reached during Rouhani’s visit to Russia in March will be successfully implemented. As US and China find common ground on North Korea, is Russia the wild card? The meeting in March between Putin and Rouhani, who have grown closer through their mutual support of Syrian president Bashar al Assad, mostly focused on the countries’ flourishing economic ties in the fields of energy and industry. Iran and Russia have become increasingly allied in Syria, helping Assad’s forces gain ground in recent months, including in the Syrian army’s major offensive last year to retake rebel-held eastern Aleppo. In addition to cooperation on Syria, energy and defence ties have deepened between Iran and Russia in recent years. Russia is to build nine of Iran’s 20 proposed nuclear reactors and has emerged as a long-term arms partner, supplying Tehran with its S-300 air defence missile system. The relationship has blossomed under Rouhani despite the countries having a complicated history over territory, oil and Communist ideology. Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric who spearheaded [Read More…]

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