Iran Summons Italian Envoy In Rebuke Over Protests

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Misplaced standing and a determined existence in Iran are driving hundreds of former Afghan troops — a lot of them elite commandos educated by america — to contemplate preventing as mercenaries in Ukraine and different battlefields.

Many ex-Afghan safety personnel accuse america of abandoning them after the Taliban regained energy final yr. Additionally they say poverty and safety issues are factoring into their selections to take a personal Russian mercenary group up on its recruitment gives.

In keeping with WhatsApp messages seen by RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi, some former Afghan commandos are already making the transfer to affix the Vagner Group, often known as Wagner, a personal paramilitary group that performs a distinguished position within the Kremlin’s battle in opposition to Ukraine.

We had no place to reside in Afghanistan anymore, as a result of the Taliban terrorists chased us.”

Others presently residing in Iran, the place hundreds of former Afghan troopers sought refuge following the Taliban’s seizure of their native Afghanistan in August 2021, say they’re residing a meager existence, resorting to handbook labor and even rifling by way of rubbish to promote to make ends meet.

It marks a significant turnaround for the previous members of the Afghan Nationwide Military (ANA) and its elite commando drive, which had been educated by america and Western allies and fashioned the spine of the previous Afghan authorities’s efforts to defend the nation and fight the Taliban and the Islamic State extremist group.

Afghan troopers in Iran who’ve stated they plan to take Vagner up on its recruitment gives say they had been betrayed by america and the U.S.-backed Afghan authorities that they fought for. Many blame them for his or her present predicament.

The Taliban quickly seized management of the nation as america pulled out its forces from Afghanistan. With out U.S. help, Afghan forces rapidly capitulated, and plenty of Afghan leaders fled overseas as Taliban fighters descended on Kabul.

“After the autumn of the nation’s traitorous presidential regime, [the United States] offered us out and surrendered the nation to terrorists (the Taliban),” one former member of the Afghan particular forces, who didn’t present his title, stated in an audio recording posted on a WhatsApp channel subscribed to by former members of the Afghan army.

“We had no place to reside in Afghanistan anymore, as a result of the Taliban terrorists chased us,” he stated within the audio, which was posted on December 3. “A number of of our friends had been captured and beheaded, and we had been pressured to go away Afghanistan.”

No Life On The Run

RFE/RL was unable to independently confirm the soldier’s claims, however the extrajudicial killings of former Afghan army and authorities employees is well-documented, with 100 such slayings recorded within the first months of Taliban rule alone.

Additionally widespread and well-documented is the assumption amongst former Afghan troopers, translators, and authorities employees that they had been deserted by their U.S. allies and that the previous Afghan authorities botched the battle effort and stole funds that had been allotted to the military.

These claims have been backed by a current report by Enterprise Insider documenting that former Afghan officers smuggled almost $1 billion in gold and money in another country as their authorities neared collapse.

In November, the U.S. Particular Inspector-Basic for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) cited corruption as among the many components that hastened the autumn of the Afghan authorities and paved the best way for the Taliban to reestablish management of Afghanistan.

Tens of hundreds of Afghan troops who fought alongside Western allied forces over almost twenty years in Afghanistan are believed to have been left behind when america withdrew the final of its forces on August 30, 2021.

Whereas an estimated 80,000 at-risk Afghans had been airlifted out, those that weren’t needed to fend for themselves, resulting in issues that tens of hundreds of U.S.-trained troops would don’t have any various however to flee the nation, or be a part of the Taliban or a regional adversary.

A lot of them went into hiding in Afghanistan susceptible to being hunted down by the Taliban, or fled overseas. By some accounts, as much as 30,000 former Afghan troopers made their method to Iran.

Preventing For {Dollars}

The previous soldier who mentioned his state of affairs on WhatsApp stated he fled to Iran for his security and had lived there for a number of months. After receiving phrase that the Vagner group was recruiting Afghans to combat in Ukraine, he stated he signed up.

“Afghanistan, NATO, and america introduced us in as younger males and deserted us,” he stated. “Russia began a program. They had been recruiting sure models and taking them to the battle in Ukraine. So, numerous our fellow troopers signed up, and we’re going to Russia quickly.”

One other former soldier, in an audio message posted on the identical WhatsApp channel on December 3, stated he and a bunch of colleagues had just lately arrived in Iran with the intention of becoming a member of Vagner to combat for Russia in Ukraine after listening to in regards to the mercenary group’s recruitment gives.

Critical safety and financial issues and excessive poverty and desperation have pressured them to do that for a chew of bread, to outlive, and to flee the pursuit and torture of the Taliban.”

He claimed that Iran was conscious of the recruitment effort and was even aiding the method of transferring Afghan troopers to Russia.

“We had been in Afghanistan, and there have been many rumors being unfold that former army personnel had gone to Russia by way of Iran,” the soldier stated, talking anonymously. “We registered right here in Iran. They transferred a number of folks earlier than us.”

The soldier stated that former Afghan troopers had been being provided everlasting citizenship in Russia in trade for preventing in Ukraine.

The previous particular forces officer stated that his choice to signal on with Vagner was influenced by security issues in Afghanistan, the place he stated he and his fellow troopers had lived in hiding and poverty for 14 months, and the possibility for a greater life for his household.

“We got here alone, however numerous those that had been transferred earlier at the moment are with their households [in Russia],” he stated. “We determined to go due to our state of affairs and that of our kids.

“We could not go away the home. Most of our pals had been arrested and killed, and most of them, like me, fled to Iran or Tajikistan,” he stated.

We perceive some Afghans could also be weak to [Vagner’s] financial inducements, however would warning anybody from becoming a member of within the unlawful invasion of Ukraine.”

The previous Afghan officer estimated that, primarily based on his conversations, some 2,500 Afghan troopers had left Afghanistan with the intention of going to Russia, the place he stated he was provided $2,500 for six months of coaching and $3,000 as soon as he goes to Ukraine to combat.

These figures correspond roughly with different experiences and testimonials about Vagner’s recruitment drive, which additionally say that Afghan particular forces troops and their households had been being provided secure haven and $1,500 a month to maneuver to Russia and subsequently combat in Ukraine.

Basic Farid Ahmadi, a former commander of the particular operations corps of the deposed Republic of Afghanistan, advised Radio Azadi that he believes safety and monetary issues are driving many former Afghan troopers to contemplate preventing with Vagner.

“Critical safety and financial issues and excessive poverty and desperation have pressured them to do that for a chew of bread, to outlive, and to flee the pursuit and torture of the Taliban,” Ahmadi stated in a reside interview through Skype this month.

Radio Azadi has documented the lives of some former Afghan troopers residing in Iran, the place they are saying they’re reeling from their misplaced standing and dire monetary conditions.

Former Afghan particular forces commander Sayed Ahmad Nouri amassing rubbish in Iran.

Sayed Ahmad Nouri, 38, stated he used to function a particular forces commander in western Afghanistan however now has to gather rubbish in Mashhad to offer for his giant household.

Nouri laments that he used to direct a whole lot of troops and “tanks would transfer beneath my command, and I had full authority,” whereas serving with the ANA. Now, he stated, his household of 12 lives in a one-room condominium and “are sleeping on high of each other.”

Abdul Ahad Safi, a former rating official who headed a authorities division preventing organized crime in Afghanistan’s Herat Province, now does handbook labor at a Mashhad workshop to assist his household of 5.

He advised Radio Azadi that he can “barely maintain himself alive” as a result of “my earnings doesn’t cowl our bills.”

Former organized-crime fighter Abdul Ahad Safi doing manual labor in Iran.

Former organized-crime fighter Abdul Ahad Safi doing handbook labor in Iran.

Dangerous Penalties

Apart from Russia’s battle in opposition to Ukraine, a small variety of former Afghan troopers have been recruited to combat in different conflicts, together with for Iran in Yemen, and in Syria and even in Nagorno-Karabakh, in accordance with Ahmadi.

There was no proof that Afghan forces have truly reached the battlefield in Ukraine, and the nation’s safety service didn’t reply to queries despatched by RFE/RL relating to the chance that Afghans had been preventing for Vagner in Ukraine.

In response to questions by RFE/RL, a U.S. State Division spokesman stated in written feedback that the division was conscious of unconfirmed experiences that the Vagner group is recruiting former Afghan troopers residing exterior of Afghanistan.

“We perceive some Afghans could also be weak to [Vagner’s] financial inducements, however would warning anybody from becoming a member of within the unlawful invasion of Ukraine,” the spokesman stated, including that the Vagner group “is utilized by the Russian authorities to assist its harmful and destabilizing international coverage, whereas trying to take care of deniability.”

Relating to claims by Afghan troopers that they had been deserted by america in Afghanistan, the spokesman acknowledged the difficulties Afghans face in leaving the nation, however stated, “We proceed to observe the financial state of affairs of Afghanistan and supply help, the place doable, to the folks of Afghanistan as a part of our enduring dedication.”



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