This article leads to a PBS FRONTLINE documentary by Najibullah Quraishi that was released on 20 July. It highlights two threats to Taliban rule not emanating from the Panjshir Valley. The Hazara, like the Tajiks of the Panjshir Valley just want the Taliban to mind their own business and leave them the hell alone to live in peace. The Taliban just can’t do that. As Deobandi jihadists, they are bent on evangelizing in their own heavy handed way. This will lead to spontaneous local resistance by the Hazara. A second more organized and formidable threat is the Liwa Fatemiyoun, a military force organized, equipped and trained by the IRGC. Here’s a description of the Fatemiyoun from an article entitled “Will Iran support guerrilla warfare to restore military balance in Afghanistan?” that appeared in the Indian daijiworld.com on 13 August.
“Analysts say that Iran can deploy the Fatemiyoun brigade, an irregular fighting force drawn from the nearly 300,000 Afghan refugees in Afghanistan, displaced earlier by the rolling conflict in the country. The Fatemiyoun brigade is battle tested as it had been deployed by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to fight Islamic extremists in Syria.”
“The Fatemiyoun Brigade or Liwa Fatemiyoun is also called Hezbollah Afghanistan, as it has apparently been trained on the lines of the Iran backed Lebanese Hezbollah—a key player to counter the Islamic State and other radical groups in Syria. It has been widely reported that the group trained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran has lost around 2,000 fighters and 8,000 wounded in the Syrian theatre by 2017 alone.”
I can damned near guarantee that we’ll hear precious little about what’s going on among the Hazara and with the Liwa Fatemiyoun. But I have little doubt that Teheran has answered Daijiworld’s question in the affirmative. Good. They killed jihadis by the hundreds in Syria. Now they can kill them by the hundreds in Afghanistan.
What should we do about this? Not much besides quietly wishing them luck and cheering them on. We can rescind our declaration of Liwa Fatemiyoun as a terrorist organization either quietly or publicly. We can also, again either quietly or publicly, remove any impediments from Iran’s ability to operate against the Taliban and ISIS-K. Beyond that the best we can do is covertly support Ahmad Massoud as Colonel Lang and I will continue to advocate. In his own words, Massoud needs “more weapons, more ammunition and more supplies.” Give the man what he needs along with a few Green Berets who have traded their berets for pakols. Oh yes, we can also stop kissing Pakistan’s ass and start making their life miserable. Quietly, of course. Smile in their face while firmly twisting their nut sacks.