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The Pandora’s box

The culture of denial has taken deep roots in the system. From news of the emergence of the Islamic State in the country to lukewarm support for the anti-corruption efforts and from failed counter-narcotics drives to a faulty economic system, the officials denied the reality and sketched unrealistic pictures through their statements to cover their mistakes.

Turning a blind eye to the reality has become a routine of the day and an acceptable practice. Same was the case when reports about Afghan refugees exploited by Iran for its own vested interests in Syria emerged in June and October 2014. Legislators such as Mohammad Naeem Hameedzai Lalai also confirmed the reports after meeting with scores of Afghans returned from Iran. Afghan authorities, including the foreign ministry, were quick enough to deny the reports about recruitment of Afghan refugees by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to support Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

However, the 23-minute new documentary “Moalem” aired by Ofogh TV, a state-owned television channel of Iran, uncovers the recruitment of Afghan refugees living in Iran by the revolutionary guards. Iran recruited Afghans are fighting in Syria for the past three years, but sadly the Afghan foreign ministry has no information about it or felt powerless to take notice of the issue and prevent the IRGC from pushing Afghans to a whirlpool of problems. One of the Afghan refugees recruited by IRGC was identified as Alireza Tavasoli in the documentary who was killed last year in Syria by rebels. Several Afghans killed in Syria were buried in Tehran, Mashhad and Qom cities of Iran. Most of them were approached by the IRGC through clerics at local mosques in Afghanistan and later shifted to Iran. After four months of military training they were carried by airplanes to Syria. There are many Afghans who are fighting Iran’s proxy war in Syria.

As it has now become very clear that Iran is turning innocent Afghan refugees into mercenaries, the Afghan government should break its silence. It is the responsibility of the state to protect the lives of citizens and prevent foreign hands from using them as mean to meet ends. To do so, the Afghan embassy in Tehran should be directed to gather more information and lodge a protest. Iranian ambassador should be summoned too. Moreover, clerics in the country who are helping the IRGC should be put behind bars for brainwashing innocent people and creating challenges for the government. Elements that want to use Aghans as a tool in proxy wars should be dealt with iron hands.

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