[Marxism] Fwd: » Fighting Other People’s Wars: Afghan Soldiers on the Syrian Battlefield Ajam Media Collective
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jun 21 11:41:39 MDT 2016
Sectarian affiliation in this case does not supersede a social hierarchy
based on national identity. Indeed, the body count of Afghan soldiers in
Syria suggests a less glorious reality of the united Shiite struggle.
According to a Spiegel report, some 700 Afghans have lost their lives in
Daraa and Aleppo alone while fighting for Assad. Recently, senior fellow
Ali Alfoneh from the Washington Institute attempted to decipher the
number of Afghan and Iranian casualties in Syria using data from funeral
services in Iran. He found that at least 255 Afghans and 342 Iranian
nationals were killed in combat in Syria between 2012 and March 2016,
with a considerable spike this year. Even as recent death tolls indicate
that Iranian nationals are increasingly involved in combat too, Afghans
still made up half of Iran’s official losses in recent months. As
Alfoneh argues, “the Islamic Republic will limit its own exposure and
losses by fighting to its last non-Iranian proxy, even when its own
personnel would be more effective”.
The notion that the young Afghan recruits represent expendable “bare”
life, placed at the front line of the battle, is present throughout
personal accounts. An Afghan teenage recruit who had fled his military
troops in Syria and arrived to Lesbos, Greece, told a BBC reporter that
Afghan fighters in Syria were used as “first-wave shock troops” and were
“effectively disposable”. A Syrian officer in charge of an Afghan
brigade was quoted in Spiegel as saying: “Do what you want with them.
You can kill them, they’re just mercenaries. We can send you thousands
of them.” According to the same report, the Syrian regime often engages
in prisoner exchanges over Iranian and Hizbollah soldiers, but Afghans
and other mercenaries of the Fatemiyoun Brigade are never part of the deal.
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