By Atul Aneja
New Delhi, Aug 13: As the Pakistan-backed Taliban continues its sweeping advance in Afghanistan, Iranian state-media is signalling that Tehran could back guerrilla warfare to counter the anti-Shia group.
An article attributed to an Iranian analyst on the homepage of the IRNA, the state-run news agency, says it is essential to garner international support for "popular mobilization forces" -- a term usually reserved for irregular warfare forces, to restore the military balance in Afghanistan. Iran has made extensive use of irregular forces, called Basij, during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the eighties.
Foreign Policy Analyst Pir Mohammad Mollazehi told IRNA that the "balance of power… is in favour of the Taliban, but it should be balanced, and that needs international support for popular mobilization forces because the Taliban would not accept any consensus and it insists on forming an Islamic emirate..."
As the US accelerates its hasty exit from Afghanistan the Iranian analyst points out that regional countries -- Iran, India, Russia and China should join hands to counter the Taliban onslaught.
Mollazehi makes it plain that Pakistan, Taliban's chief sponsor, will be the chief beneficiary of the extremist group's advance. "This is Pakistan that is running the game in Afghanistan; in another word, Pakistanis have decided to return the Taliban to power...Islamabad has reached a concession deal with the United States in this respect."
In rallying popular resistance in Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani could be the face, the IRNA article hinted. It said that Taliban wants to see that "the administration of President Ashraf Ghani would relinquish power to form a temporary government, but Ghani is a tough politician, who will not surrender effortlessly". Both the Taliban and the Pakistanis are demanding Ghani's exit for making progress during negotiations. Imran's remarks.
The Iranian analyst did not see "the capture of Kabul" as part of Taliban's plans, but by attacking other cities, Taliban had already breached its commitment to the Doha accords.
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.