Iran Recruits Afghans to Defend Assad, their Numbers Are a ‘Military Secret’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iran Recruits Afghans to Defend Assad, their Numbers is a ‘Military Secret’

Wednesday, 25 October, 2017 – 08:15
Syrian pro-regime forces hold a position in Aleppo’s Sheikh Saeed district, on December 12, 2016 (AFP PHOTO / GEORGE OURFALIAN)
Kabul – London – Asharq Al-Awsat

Fleeing grinding poverty and unemployment, thousands of Afghan Shi’ites have been recruited by Iran to defend the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad.

“For me it was just about money,” Shams, a former fighter, told Agence France Presse.

Hurman Rights Watch says the Iranians refuse to provide accurate figures, but estimates there are nearly 15,000 Afghans fighting for Fatemiyoun.

Shams, a 25-year-old member of the Hazara ethnic group, went to Syria twice in 2016 to fight in a conflict that has now been raging for more than six years.

“I went there (Iran) because I was jobless and it was a way to get money for my family,” said Shams.

“My idea was to find a job in Iran. I had no plan to go to fight in Syria but after a month of being jobless I decided to go.

“They were encouraging us saying ‘you will be a freedom fighter and if you return to Iran alive you can stay with a 10-year residence permit’.”

Afghan Shi’ites are given 1.5 million toman (about $450) to register at a recruitment center for the Fatemiyoun, Shams said. Once they have signed up they receive three million toman a month, a fortune for many poor Afghans.

Shams’ first mission was in June 2016 in the Syrian capital of Damascus, where he was assigned to protect a barracks for two months.

He went back to the country in September and was deployed to Aleppo, where he was given his first AK-47 after receiving rudimentary weapons training from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

On the front line of the battle between ISIS militants and Al-Nusra Front group, Shams said he found himself caught up in an intense and deadly battle.

“In Aleppo we faced an ambush — out of 100 fighters we lost almost all of them. There were 15 of us left alive,” Shams said.

“The bodies were sent back to Iran and the families in Afghanistan held funeral ceremonies in mosques without a coffin or grave.”

Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council, estimates more than 760 Afghans have been killed in Syria since September 2013.

The number of Afghans fighting for the Fatemiyoun is a “military secret,” said Ramazan Bashardost, a Hazara member of parliament in Kabul.

“They are used by the Iranian government, which treats them like slaves,” he said.

“The sorrow, pain and hunger of the people is not a major concern of the Afghan government,” he added.

Geert Wilders Falls Short In Election, As Wary Dutch Scatter Their Votes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Geert Wilders, a Rising Anti-Muslim Voice

This is Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician with aspirations to be the next prime minister of the Netherlands. He has compared the Quran to “Mein Kampf” and has called Moroccans “scum.”

By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date March 13, 2017.  

THE HAGUE — The far-right politician Geert Wilders fell short of expectations in Dutch elections on Wednesday, gaining seats but failing to persuade a decisive portion of voters to back his extreme positions on barring Muslim immigrants and jettisoning the European Union, according to early results and exit polls.

The results were immediately cheered by pro-European politicians who hoped that they could help stall some of the momentum of the populist, anti-European Union and anti-Muslim forces Mr. Wilders has come to symbolize, and which have threatened to fracture the bloc.

Voters, who turned out in record numbers, nonetheless rewarded right and center-right parties that had co-opted parts of his hard-line message, including that of the incumbent prime minister, Mark Rutte. Some parties that challenged the establishment from the left made significant gains.

The Dutch vote was closely watched as a harbinger of potential trends in a year of important European elections, including in France in just weeks, and later in Germany and possibly Italy. Many of the Dutch parties that prevailed favor the European Union — a rare glimmer of hope at a time when populist forces have created an existential crisis for the bloc and Britain prepares for its withdrawal, or “Brexit.”

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“Today was a celebration of democracy, we saw rows of people queuing to cast their vote, all over the Netherlands — how long has it been since we’ve seen that?” Mr. Rutte said.

Alexander Pechtold, the leader of Democrats 66, which appeared to have won the most votes of any left-leaning party, struck a similar note underscoring the vote as a victory against a populist extremist.

“During this election campaign, the whole world was watching us,” Mr. Pechtold said. “They were looking at Europe to see if this continent would follow the call of the populists, but it has now become clear that call stopped here in the Netherlands.”

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How Far Is Europe Swinging to the Right?

Right-wing parties have been achieving electoral success in a growing number of nations.

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According to an unofficial tally compiled by the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation, the country’s public broadcaster, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy was likely to capture 33 of the 150 seats in Parliament — a loss of seven seats, but still far more than any other party.

Mr. Wilders’s Party for Freedom was expected to finish second, with 20 seats (an increase of eight); and the right-leaning Christian Democratic Appeal and the left-leaning Democrats 66 were tied for third, with 19 each, the broadcaster reported.

In the Netherlands, the results betrayed a lingering distrust of turning over the reins of power to the far right, even as its message dominated the campaign and was likely to influence policies in the new government.

Yet there are limits to how much the Netherlands, one of Europe’s most socially liberal countries, will be a reliable predictor for Europe’s other important elections this year, including next month’s presidential elections in France.

Mark Bovens, a political scientist at Utrecht University, noted that Mr. Wilders and other right-wing parties, despite their gains, did not drastically cross traditional thresholds.

“The nationalist parties have won seats, compared to 2012 — Wilders’s party has gained seats, as has a new party, the Forum for Democracy — but their electorate is stable, it has not grown,” Mr. Bovens said.

Mr. Bovens pointed out that an earlier populist movement led by the right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn had won 26 seats in 2002, and that Mr. Wilders’s won 24 seats in 2010. If Mr. Wilders’s party rises to 20 seats, as the early returns seemed to indicate, it will still be lower than the previous high-water marks.

“And some of the traditional parties have moved in a more nationalistic direction, taking a bit of wind out of his sails,” he said. “You see the same strategy in Germany.”

The German governing coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which is facing a stiff election challenge of its own this year, was clearly buoyed by the Dutch result, its foreign ministry sending a warmly enthusiastic message via Twitter.

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“The Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘Whoa’ to the wrong kind of populism,” said Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd. CreditCarl Court/Getty Images

“Large majority of Dutch voters have rejected anti-European populists. That’s good news. We need you for a strong #Europe!” it read.

In the Netherlands’s extremely fractured system of proportional representation — 28 parties ran and 13 are likely to have positions in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament — the results were, not atypically, something of a dog’s breakfast.

Mr. Rutte’s party lost seats, even as it came out on top, and will need to join forces with several others in order to wield power. Virtually all parties said they would not work with Mr. Wilders in a coalition — so toxic he remains — though his positions are likely to infuse parliamentary debate.

“Rutte has not seen the last of me yet!” Mr. Wilders wrote on Twitter, and indeed his anti-immigrant message, which dominated much of the campaign, was not likely to go away.

It came into particularly sharp relief on the eve of the election, when Turkey’s foreign minister sought to enter the Netherlands to rally support among Turks in Rotterdam for a referendum to increase the power of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dutch officials refused him landing rights.

Mr. Wilders, who has seemed to relish being called the “Dutch Donald Trump,” has been so extreme that some appear to have thought twice about supporting him.

He has called for banning the Quran because he compares it to Hitler’s work “Mein Kampf,” which the Netherlands banned, and for closing mosques and Islamic cultural centers and schools.

Election turnout was high, with polling places seeing a steady stream of voters from early morning until the polls closed at 9 p.m. Of the 12.9 million Dutch citizens eligible to cast ballots, more than 80 percent voted.

Some polling places ran out of ballots and called for additional ones to be delivered. There were so many candidates listed that the ballots were as voluminous as bath towels and had to be folded many times over to fit into the ballot box.

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Supporters of the Green Party reacted in The Hague on Wednesday.CreditRobin Van Lonkhuijsen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The percentage of the vote that a party receives translates into the number of seats it will get in Parliament. If a party gets 10 percent of the total votes, it gets 10 percent of seats in the 150-seat Parliament, given to its first 15 candidates listed on the ballot.

The election was a success for the left-leaning Green Party, led by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, a relative political newcomer, whose leadership at least tripled the party’s seats, making it the fifth-place finisher and potentially a part of the government.

Mr. Klaver ran specifically on an anti-populist platform and worked hard to turn out first-time voters.

“In these elections there was an overwhelming attention from the foreign press, which is understandable because Brexit happened and Trump was elected, and because France, Germany and maybe Italy will be holding elections,” Mr. Klaver said. “They asked us: Will populism break through in the Netherlands?”

The crowd shouted: “No.”

“That is the answer that we have for the whole of Europe: Populism did not break through,” Mr. Klaver said.

Another striking development was the first-time election of former Labor Party members, all three of Turkish background, who formed a new party, Denk (which means “think”). It will be the only ethnic party in the Dutch Parliament and is a reminder that Turks are the largest immigrant community in the Netherlands. There are roughly 400,000 first, second, or third-generation Turkish immigrants in the nation.

The big loser was the center-left Labor Party, which was expected to drop from being the second largest party in Parliament, with 38 seats and a position as Mr. Rutte’s coalition partner. The party was expected to win only nine seats.

In past elections the impact of extremist right-leaning parties has been largely blunted by a political system that for more than a century has resulted in governance by coalition.

This year’s election may give the Netherlands its most fragmented government in history. Some political analysts believe it could take weeks or months to form a government and that the governing coalition will be fragile.

In Belgium, which has a similar political system as the Netherlands, it famously took nearly a year and a half after inconclusive elections in June 2010 to form a government.

Shah Jahan-Mughal Emperor Of India-Sunni Muslim-Creator Of The Taj Mahal

(I FOUND THIS ARTICLE ON GOOGLE PLUS, I THINK IT IS AN EXCELLENT ARTICLE, HOPEFULLY YOU WILL LIKE IT ALSO)

Shah Jahan – Mughal Emperor
Shah Jahan - Mughal Emperor
Shah Jahan – Mughal Emperor

Mughal emperor Jahangir’s death and the following succession struggle ended in the triumph of his son, Prince Khurram, who took the title Shah Jahan, which means “emperor of the world.”

He killed his male relatives and forced Jahangir’s powerful widow, Nur Jahan, to retire. He is best remembered for building the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. He was the fifth ruler of the Mughal (Mogul, Moghul) Empire and his reign marked the zenith of Mughal power and splendor.

Anticipating his father’s death, the future Shah Jahan openly rebelled in 1623 and seized power upon Jahangir’s death in 1628, putting to death all his brothers and other possible rivals. Shah Jahan was a devout orthodox Muslim. Intolerant of other faiths, he ordered the destruction of new Hindu temples and Christian churches in 1632.

In the same year, he attacked the Portuguese settlements at Hoogley and Chittagong in Bengal. Both trading outposts were far from Goa, the Portuguese viceroy’s seat, and he could send no help. Portuguese prisoners were taken to Agra and kept until 1643, when they were repatriated to Goa.

Shan Jahan also campaigned against the Shi’i ruled Muslim states in the Deccan and subdued them to vassalage. However he had to give up Kandahar in Afghanistan to the Persians in 1653 because they possessed superior artillery and guns, and he also lost control of previous Mughal holdings in Central Asia.

Shah Jahan ruled the Mughal Empire at its height and was noted for the extravagance and opulence of his court. He was famous for the buildings he commissioned, most notably the Red Fort in Delhi with its mosque and sumptuous palaces, especially for the gem encrusted Peacock Throne.

Shah Jahan is accompanied by his three sons
Shah Jahan is accompanied by his three sons

Although he had a harem of 5,000 women, he was known for his devotion to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, whose name means “light of the palace.” She died giving birth to the last of their 14 children. He expressed his grief for her by assembling 20,000 workers, who labored for 20 years to complete her mausoleum in Agra.

Designed by Persian architects it was a synthesis of Persian Muslim and Indian styles called Indo-Islamic and remains a wonder of the world. Most of his other monuments also remain. The demands of his campaigns and projects resulted in huge tax increases that weakened the economy.

As Shah Jahan aged, his adult sons began to conspire for the throne. He kept his eldest and favorite son, Dara Shikuh, in Agra so he could begin acquiring military and administrative experience. Fearing that he was near death, his remaining three ambitious sons revolted in 1657.

They fought with one another, against their father, and against their oldest brother. Aurangzeb, the third and most ruthless, was the victor. He killed his brothers and imprisoned his aged father in an apartment in Agra fort with a view of the Taj Mahal until his death in 1666. Meanwhile Aurangzeb proclaimed himself Emperor Alamgir in 1658.

Iran’s Mass “Murderer” Ali Khamenei Declares War On All Islamic Believers World Wide?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘AL ARABIYA MIDDLE EAST NEWS DESK’)

Iranian opposition: Khamenei ordered Makkah attack

President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (CNRI) Maryam Radjavi delivers a speech on June 13, 2015 during the CNRI annual meeting, in Villepinte. (AFP)

President-elect of the Iranian Resistance “strongly” condemned on Sunday the targeting of Saudi’s holy city Makkah with rockets launched from inside Yemen on October 29.

Maryam Rajavi said the strikes carried out were under the supervision of Quds Force, and ordered by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

She referred to the attack as a “declaration of war to all Muslims around the world”.

She called for the expulsion of the “anti-human” and “anti-Islamic” regime from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and requested Islamic countries cut relations with the current Iranian regime.

“Even earlier the mullahs’ regime spared no effort to conduct crimes and desecration of Makkah and the sacred House of God. Among others were sending explosives to Saudi in 1986, and causing riot and chaos in Mecca in 1987 that took the lives of more than 400 pilgrims. This is the very same regime that did not even hesitate to explode the shrines of Shiite Imams in Mashhad and Samarra in a bid to maintain its infamous reign,” Rajavi said.

Earlier, the Iranian Resistance revealed transferring arm shipments by the mullah’s regime to Yemen.

Islamist Bombing In Philippines Presidents Home Town

 

10 killed, 60 wounded in Davao explosion

A photo from Twitter account of Fr. Jboy Gonzales of Ateneo de Davao University shows a SWAT team securing Roxas market where the explosion occurred.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A powerful blast ripped through a crowded public market in this city before midnight last night, killing 10 people instantly and leaving more than 60 others wounded.

The blast occurred in the massage area of the popular Roxas night market, which was packed with people relaxing at the end of the workweek in bars, massage parlors and roadside food stalls.

Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, who is acting mayor in lieu of his sister Sara, ordered establishments in the market temporarily shuttered as the area was cordoned off by police and a lockdown was ordered in the city.

The blast occurred while President Duterte is at his home in this city.

Authorities still have to establish if the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device or by a liquefied petroleum gas tank.

Witnesses said they heard a loud explosion and saw smoke. A masseuse said the blast appeared to have come from a chair.

The Davao Police Regional Office chief said up to 12 people might have been killed in the blast.

The wounded were rushed to different hospitals, with many brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center.

Panicked people rushed to the nearby Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) campus, where authorities also ordered a lockdown.

The ADDU advised students inside the campus to stay calm as it assured them of their safety.

“The ground floor of the community center is currently serving as the clinic. Students and victims may seek first aid help there,” ADDU said in its official Twitter account.

“It is highly advisable to stay indoors, and avoid going to crowded public spaces such as malls and parks to be safe,” it added.

The blast occurred following President Duterte’s order to the military to crush the Abu Sayyaf.

On March 4, 2003, a bomb exploded at a waiting shed at the Davao International Airport, killing 21 people and leaving about 145 people wounded. A month later on April 3, the city’s Sasa Wharf was also bombed, leaving 17 dead and 56 wounded.

The Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the airport attack. Several members of the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were later apprehended in connection with the bombings.

Hours after the wharf bombing, three mosques in the city were bombed by masked men.  – With Janvic Mateo