Islamic State militants in Iraq have launched major offensive on country’s capital Baghdad. After the US airstrikes ceded to stop Islamist fighters President Obama came under strong criticism at home for military failure and weak display of global leadership. Amid growing Islamist threat State Secretary John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed that Moscow and Washington would renew their security cooperation.
Studio guest Gleb Ivashentsov, Russia’s former Ambassador to South Korea and Myanmar, Deputy General Director of Russian Asia-Pacific Council, and Kamal Gaballa, Managing Editor of Al-Ahram daily, Cairo, Egypt, shared their opinions with Radio VR.
Gleb Ivashentsov: The whole development is actually the result of the American actions in Iraq for the last ten years. The US interference was aimed at the establishment of its global domination. Many countries, perhaps, would have agreed with the unipolar world, if the US could have stopped massacres and establish peace and prosperity in this or that place of the world. But that doesn’t happen and everyone sees the incapability, incompetence and malicious intents of Washington. The world can’t recall a single case of the American interference bringing anything good to the region where that interference took place. Everywhere there are wars, disintegration of states, destabilization, devastation and economic collapse.
Let’s look at the roots of the IS. From where do they get their financing? One can say they got a lot of cash while taking the banks in some captured cities. But the main cash flow didn’t come from those banks, it came from their sponsors in the wealthy Gulf states.
Kamal Gaballa: What the US is doing in the region, not only what happened in Iraq, but during the situation in Afghanistan, they made a lot for Al Qaeda to fight against the Russian army. And at last they are paying the price – Al Qaeda is fighting the Americans. The Americans are doing a big mistake in the area. They were supporting Hamas in the beginning, and now Hamas is fighting against the US. They were supporting the ISIS in the beginning to fight against Bashar al-Assad, now the ISIS is fighting the US. We can’t understand what the US is doing.
We are looking at the US as the real evil in the area. We are all in the region looking for peace. How peace can come, if there is no real solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict? Who is supporting Israel against the all Arabs in the area? We hate the ISIS. The Egyptians are also fighting against the Muslim Brotherhood. Why the US and the European countries look at the ISIS as a terrorist organization and they don’t see the MB the same way?
Looking at the problem in Iraq, the militants are coming closer to the gates of Baghdad. To what extent do you think this is a serious threat? If the American airstrikes would be able to come as a game-changer, what can happen to Iraq and the region?
Kamal Gaballa: Of course, the ISIS is threatening not only Iraq, but also the whole area. But it is not as big, as it is shown by the media. This is kind of a propaganda, because the US wants to reorganize another coalition to be headed by the US. The ISSI is not as big as they usually show in the media. I think it can be defeated within the few weeks, but if there is a real will. The US doesn’t want to defeat them for the moment. They want this issue to be continuing for the sake of Obama himself. He wants to show that he is the real international leader, because he’s lost a lot of support. Secondly, they want the rich Arab countries to buy more weapons form the Western factories. The ISIS is a game of the US against the peoples of the area.
This week we've seen the meeting in Paris between Lavrov and Kerry, who hinted that Moscow and Washington are ready to restart their cooperation in the sphere of security and exchange of intelligence on the IS. So, it seems that we are still looking for the ways to start acting.
Gleb Ivashentsov: We’ve been cooperating with the US in fighting terrorism from the very beginning. I personally participated in the work of the Russian-American antiterrorist group, which was formed 12 years back. But the thing is that quite often we have a different understanding of what terrorists are. Unfortunately, some terrorists are considered quite good by our American colleagues, like the Syrian opposition forces, who fought Bashar al-Assad. They were considered as terrorists by the US, but the US supported them with weapons, which they sold to the IS and with which the IS is fighting now in Iraq.
But surely, the idea of common efforts is very important. I do not think we shall join that new collation of willing organized by the US, but we are supporting the Government of Iraq. And Russia has send weapons to the Government of Iraq. We are on the side of the Iraqi Government, but I don’t think we should join any operation on land or in air against the IS in Iraq.