October 16, 2016


The Saudi-Iran Rivalry and Sectarian Strife in South Asia : Iran and Saudi Arabia are recruiting and radicalizing local Muslim populations in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. (Abha Shankar, October 06, 2016, The Diplomat)

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) is secretly conscripting hundreds of Afghan Shia to fight alongside Assad's forces in Syria. Draftees are lured by promises of an Iranian residence permit and a monthly salary of about $500.

Shias, who are predominantly of Hazara ethnicity and speak a dialect of Persian, comprise 20 percent of Afghanistan's 30 million people.

The IRGC also has drafted thousands of undocumented migrant and refugee Afghans in Iran, according to a Human Rights Watch report. Afghan refugees and migrants who have fled war and persecution are threatened with deportation back to their home country if they refuse the draft.

Afghans recruited to fight in the Syrian civil war are deployed with the Fatemiyoun Division, launched by the IRGC in 2014 and named after Prophet Muhammad's daughter, Fatima.

Fatemiyoun forces are estimated to consist of 20,000 fighters whose primary mission is to safeguard Shia shrines in Syria, primarily the Sayyida Zeinab mosque in Damascus, one of Shia Islam's holiest sites that has been the target of ISIS attacks. Division fighters sometimes are coerced into carrying out perilous military operations and reportedly received training from the Lebanese Hezbollah. Funerals for fighters killed in battle are held in the holy city of Qom and other Iranian cities and attended by Iranian officials.

The IRGC has similarly established the Zeinabiyoun Brigade for Pakistani Shia deployed to fight in Syria. Known popularly as Hezbollah Pakistan, the Zeinabiyoun has a logo similar to that of the Lebanese Hezbollah and its Facebook postings applaud the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In June 2014, 30,000 Indian Shia Muslims volunteered to fight Islamic State forces in Iraq to protect Shiite shrines from being targeted by Islamic State terrorists who routinely attack these shrines. Volunteers ranged from students to professionals such as bankers, doctors, and engineers. "We are looking at a million volunteers to form a human chain around the holy shrines of Karbala and Najaf, in case the Isis [sic] attacks. We will do everything to stop the advance of the enemies," Syed Bilal, spokesman of the India-based Shia group, Anjuman-e-Haideri, told Iraqi News.

Posted by at October 16, 2016 6:17 PM