11 July 2014, 17:22

Islamist groups in Middle East fulfil US agenda

Islamist groups in Middle East fulfil US agenda

This week has seen a surge of violence in the Middle East. Iraq and Gaza are ablaze. Is there any connection between Iraq and Gaza? Is it the birth of a greater Middle East? And what is the role of the greater world powers in the present turmoil? Radio VR is discussing it with Vytcheslav Matuzov, Chairman of the Society of Friendship and Business Cooperation with Arab Countries, and Saeed Naqvi, Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.


As the Iraqi government has been trying to contain the progress if the Islamic State, which, according to the government’s statement, has seized a stock of chemical weapons, Israel has launched an unprecedented offensive on Gaza. Towards the end of the week, the Israeli Army has used twice the amount of munitions and bombs it had dropped on Gaza back in 2012.

Vytcheslav Matuzov, Chairman of the Society of Friendship and Business Cooperation with Arab Countries:

Of course, all the developments in the last five years in Syria and in the Arab world at large, including Iraq, Palestine, are very closely connected, because all the driving forces participating in these events are right extremists on the Islamic basis: the MB, Jabhat al-Nusra, Al Qaeda and now the Islamic State, previously the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

I think that all these events have one common basis – the participation of extremist organizations: extremist forces working in Libya, in Egypt, in Syria, and in Iraq which is coordinating its position on the Syrian crisis with the Syrian Government, not with the US.

If we thoroughly study the origin of all the extremist groups, we find out that the MB is based on the deep intelligence service’s work conducted in the 30’es last century by the British intelligence service to fight international communism. And today the same organization is serving the American interests, the American geostrategic plans in the ME for reconstructing its political map; as it was named by Condoleezza Rice – a new big ME – ‘new’ means with changed frontiers between the states.

I think that the current events in Iraq are not accidental, because the US is not inclined to help the Government headed by the Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki. They are demanding his removal from this position and are insisting on reshuffling the Iraqi Cabinet, as a precondition for giving the support against the Islamic State organization that is very-very active during the last weeks in Iraq.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant was setup in Syria under the cover of the Syrian Free Army that was enjoying the support by the CIA and the American official position. This Free Syrian Army, all the other organizations, including the Islamic State received a certain kind of military and financial assistance from the US through the Turkish territory.

That means that the change in the direction of their operation against the Iraqi Government mean one thing – all of these forces are oriented on following the American geopolitical goals.

The same thing we watch on the Palestinian scene, where the international quartet (namely the US, Russia, the EU and the UN) was very active in the previous decades. They were pushing both sides – the Palestinian and the Israeli – to a peaceful solution, to a peaceful settlement of a very old and even ancient Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

There was a roadmap worked out, that obliged both sides to fulfill certain obligations. As I know, the Palestinians, from their side, have fulfilled all the obligations demanded from them by the international quartet; Israel – not a single one.

Today, the situation in the world is dramatically changing, especially when we watch the developments on the Ukrainian and eastern European directions, where there is a direct confrontation between the US and the Russian Federation. I think that any chance for collaboration between Russia and America to settle the Palestinian issue is lost.

The US has tried to take up the initiative, to be involved as a single state to solve this issue, but they failed fully and unconditionally. The initiative of John Kerry on the Israeli- Palestinian track is accepted neither by the Palestinians, nor by the Israeli side.

That’s why the common situation in the region is in favour of refusing any settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And Israel used this international situation that doesn’t press upon them in any form. That’s why the intensification of the military struggle, intensification of military efforts to resolve the Palestinian issue became one of the priorities of the Israeli foreign policy in the region.

I think that it is a wrong position of the Israeli Government, when they are using some extremist groups inside Gaza, inside the Palestinian movements, who are launching self-made rockets that don’t harm Israel, of course, it is not acceptable.

But we should look at the origin of these rockets. Some extremist Islamic groups, not Hamas, not the Palestinian administration are responsible for those launches in the first place. And instead of undertaking some political and diplomatic steps, Israel preferred a massive and inhumane military attack on the Gaza Strip using all the forces at their disposal – air forces, heavy tanks and so on.

I think that the situation in Palestine demonstrates a loosening chance for a political settlement. From the very beginning the Russian Federation demanded to keep the international quartet’s efforts afloat, to keep afloat the political settlement, the political negotiations between Israel and Palestine, but it occurs that it doesn’t correspond to the American goals in the region as a whole, insisting on using military force in all places in the Arab world.

If we watch Syria, we find out that the American position is concentrated on supporting the most extremist groups in the Syrian opposition. It is not the Syrian opposition. Militarized groups came to Syria from all countries of the world, including Europe, including the US and they are fighting the Syrian Government.

Who is financing them? Who is arming them? Who is pushing them politically and support informationally? I think that the answer to these questions is obvious – it is the USA.

I think that with the developments on the Palestinian issue it is obvious today that it is necessary to put an end to violence from both sides. I'm not inclined to support any violence from the Palestinians, because the response from Hamas to the Israeli attacks is a response. If it were not the Israeli attacks, there would be no rockets from Hamas’s side.

This is really a war that is unleashed on the Palestinian soil against the Palestinians and it proves once against that the ME needs stability and a peaceful solution of existing conflicts and, first of all, the solution to the Palestinian issue.

And I ask – is Israel ready to act pragmatically to achieve the demanded goals? If it prefers to stay in the state of war with the Palestinians and solve this issue by force, then it is a deadlock. I'm sure that it doesn’t give any chance for security, not for Israel, not for the Palestinians and not for the world. 

Saeed Naqvi, Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi whom we interviewed together with my colleague Andrew Korybko:

The US has financed the worst kind of extremist Islamists in Syria. They did this in Yemen. They did this in Afghanistan. You see, they confuse you and me and the world by giving them different names – the mujahidins and the Taliban, and the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And just across the water from Yemen is Somalia where there is the Al-Shabab. And Al-Shabab goes into Kenya. And then, you have these Syrian extremists.

All the arms are available across from Niger to Mali.

You are speaking about this approach, and to me it sounds like it is a structuralized theater-wide approach bridging some areas from north Africa to the ME and even east Africa into a covert network of non-state actors, extremists and weapons. What reasons do you see for this?

Of course, all along the Sahel. Boko Haram in Nigeria. You see, ultimately, the whole strategy seems to be to divide along the Sahel the Islamic northern African states from the more Christian countries south of the Sahel. That seems to be the strategy, I have no doubt at all about it.

On the one hand, they create these monsters, but then, there is such a thing as limits to power. And now they lose control over these things that have been let loose. So, they become the ISIS in Syria and Iraq, whom they simply cannot control. And neither they, nor the Saudi Arabians.

In other words, it is a Frankenstein, it is a genie that is out of the bottle and now that genie cannot be put back. And they know that they cannot. Now, they are seeking for the Iranian help. And the Iranians are saying – well, let’s first complete our negotiations on the nuclear issue and then we shall see whether you have enough credit with us, for us to help you in the mess that you have created in Syria and in Iraq.

And, of course, they don’t talk so much about Lebanon, because once you talk of Lebanon, you have Hezbollah in focus. And once you have Hezbollah in focus, then Israel comes into focus, and that has to be disguised somehow.

Do you think there could be a possibility that this chaos that you are mentioning, could be weaponised in a way, almost like how the Arab Spring destabilization was transplanted to Ukraine through all these different non-state actors? Could the US maybe be using proxy warfare, lead-from-behind strategy as its new type of plan for asserting its dominance?

I don’t have absolute knowledge of this, but I keep hearing from people, who are experts, that many of these people are being trained in NATO facilities, including some of the people who turned out to be Islamic extremists. Some of them received training in all sorts of places, and particularly the people who are from Kiev, who actually have put the agreement to rest. I mean, many of them have received regular training.

Now, what happens is that you create a conflict, and then you end up supplying. Look, what the West is good at? They are extremely good at producing arms. And if you read Burns, Deputy Secretary of State, his message – the structure of the new ME – it is nothing but a huge catalog of armaments that they are selling to these people, selling to GCC. Now, who is threatening Dubai, for heaven’s sake? And they are selling the most sophisticated weapons to each one of the GCC countries.

So, the idea is to create fear. Look, Iran is coming! So, you buy this. Look, so and so is coming and the Russian menace is still there. So, you buy this. The idea is to create scare and sell arms.

Is it their goal to destabilize Bahrain, too? It looks like the agenda which is being imposed on the Government of Bahrain by the US – the agenda of reform – might eventually lead to a major unrest in that country, which is already balancing on the verge of unrest.

I have a feeling that there is a falling out on Bahrain between the US and Riyadh. Bahrain is Saudi Arabia’s fiefdom. The Americans can’t be doing very much there unless they want to cock a soup at Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is in for major changes. They’ve already had Prince Bandar out of the way. Prince Nayef is dead. Prince Salman is not well. The King himself is ailing and very old. So, therefore, you’ve got a problem of transition in Saudi Arabia.

I have a feeling that there are various elements in Iran, like the former President Rafsanjani, who believe that the present regime, the present lot in Riyadh is the best we can deal with, because he is conversant with the movements inside Saudi Arabia that have been placed under a huge blanket. These are the movements that took over the Mecca Mosque on November 20th 1979. I mean, there is a huge problem going on inside the Salafi and the extreme Wahhabis who do not want any shift and who do not want the Americans to be in Dhahran looking after the oil fields.

So, therefore, what has happened is that somewhere down the line there may have been “let us diffuse the situation”, “let us talk”. It is an impossible situation in Bahrain. I mean, the Khalifa regime – the monarchy which is Sunni – has 80% of the population which is Shia. And this population is described as the opposition. I mean, it is a ridiculous state of affairs.

The regime in Manama, which is the capital of Bahrain, consists of three people. There is a very hardline Prime Minister, who is the uncle of the King. And there is a very soft Crown Prince who is the King’s son. The King’s son believes that the future lies in settling with the Shias. And there is that kind of conflict going on.

Now, the Prime Minister in Bahrain was getting a great deal of support from Prince Nayef, who was the Saudi Interior Minister and who is now dead, and we do not know whether he has any support in Saudi Arabia or not. Therefore, a great deal is happening that you and I are not really privy to.

And there’s been some talk about a falling out between Qatar and Saudi Arabia over the MB.

Yes, the Saudis are more worried about the Brotherhood, than they are worried about the Shias in Iran, because the Brotherhood had very nearly taken over the Kingdom on the 20th of November 1979, when hundreds of people went and occupied, it is called a Siege of Mecca. And it was against the Saudi monarchy. Exactly, these were the very people whose offshoot was Osama Bin Laden. They didn’t want the Americans on the Saudi soil, they did not want any movement towards modernization.

It is in its most virulent form in Saudi Arabia. It is somewhat less virulent in Egypt and in Qatar, and in Turkey. But it comes from the same, it is a missionary Islam. It is an Islam which seeks reform and which is against the monarchies. And anything that is against the monarchies is against the House of Saud. So, they are very-very worried about that. And there is an old rivalry between them and the Qataris. So, the Qataris, on the one hand, they needled the Saudis by supporting the MB.

What could be the role the ISIS is playing now? What kind of instrument is that?

The ISIS has been hyped up, again, by the media. You see, from August 2011 the West, the Saudis, Turkey, everybody, they’ve been financing extremism, al-Nusra group and the people who were chopping open the bodies of people are eating their liver in front of a TV camera, that cannibalism, that kind of extremism.

And what was the end result in their thoughts? They were looking for a game change and Assad would go. Now, Assad has not gone. How many times did we see Secretary of State Hilary Clinton saying – Assad, get out of the way? Assad has not got out of the way. Assad has won an election recently. Then, they were not happy with Nouri al-Maliki. Nouri al-Maliki has won the election just now.

So, therefore, this discontent in the corridor between Syria and Iraq has been given this name of caliphate. You don’t get a caliphate emerge like a rabbit out of a hat in a circus. These things take time.

This is the anger. And what has happened is that in both these places there is the Alawite (which means half Shia) in Damascus, there is Nouri al-Maliki (which means Shia power here). You’ve got Shia power here, you’ve got Shia power there in Syria and, therefore, there is Sunni discontent. And the Sunni discontent, it is ex-Ba’athists who are there, there are ex-Sufies, there are various groups, they have clambered onto the bandwagon of this extremist group of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This is what has given it a body. It has given it substance, it has given it the weight.

What do they want? They want Nouri al-Maliki to be replaced by somebody. Even the Americans are interested in this. Whom do they want there? They want maybe someone like Ahmed Chalabi. And once they have Ahmed Chalabi or someone of their liking, all these things will begin to dissipate.

So, no caliphate is taking ship overnight. But, yes, some kind of a nucleus has been created for this ship later on and the most vulnerable would be regimes like Jordan next door, because they are small and they are vulnerable.

And they are all threatening Israel, aren’t they?

Yes. the funny thing is, of course,that all these extremist groups, they come up, they fight among themselves, they boomerang from Iraq to Syria, to Lebanon, but no one does any harm to Israel. Isn’t that strange?

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