Russia’s efforts to counter Islamic State threat draw world-wide attention

MOSCOW, September 23. /TASS/. The Russian leadership’s efforts for creating an effective international coalition against the terrorist Islamic State (IS) have drawn politicians’ growing attention worldwide, including the Middle East and even the United States, which makes one hopeful for further cooperation along these lines, the president of the Religion and Politics Institute, Aleksandr Ignatenko, told TASS in an interview.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Tuesday said Washington was interested in Russia’s signals regarding the struggle against the Islamic State. As follows from what he said, Washington was studying Russia’s proposal for military cooperation in Syria. Several days earlier US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “Would we welcome Russian help in going against ISIL. Obviously.” The issue was discussed by the two countries’ defence ministers, Ashton Carter and Sergey Shoigu last Saturday.

On Wednesday, there emerged reports the anti-IS coalition coordinator, General John Allen, retired, whose candidature had been approved by President Barack Obama in person, was about to step down.

Ignatenko, a member of the presidential council for interaction with religious associations, believes that the inability of the US-led international coalition to fight against the Islamic State well enough, as well as Russia’s growing military and technical assistance to Syria’s government troops have been the main factors that have drawn the attention of many countries in the region and of the United States as well to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan.

“The 62-nation US-led coalition dealt 250 rocket strikes against IS militants’ positions of late. Firstly, that was surely not enough. Secondly, the attacks achieved no significant results,” Ignatenko said.

“Against this background Western secret services’ reports saying Russian cargo planes, escorted by fighter jets, have been making shuttle flights to Syria and that Russia was supplying military hardware, weapons and ammunition to Damascus have drawn a very emotional reaction from some politicians, including those in the United States and the Middle East. “What if Putin manages to seize the initiative in the struggle with the Islamic State, the way he did when the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons was the issue of the day? Incidentally, Moscow has acknowledged that it is providing military and technical assistance to Damascus in strict compliance with international law,” Ignatenko said.

Moscow’s initiative for creating an effective coalition against the Islamic State was high on the agenda of Putin’s discussions with King Salman al Saud, of Saudi Arabia, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, of Egypt, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, deputy commander-in-chief of the UAE armed forces Mohamed Al Nahayan, King Abdullah II, of Jordan, and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ignatenko recalled.

“Politicians in the Middle East and monarchies of the Gulf are getting increasingly disillusioned with the performance of the US-led coalition in the struggle against the Islamic State. They tend to pay much closer attention to the Putin plan, which envisages mobilization of different forces for suppressing the radical Islamists. According to this plan the common front may incorporate Kurdish militias, Bashar Assad’s government troops, the armed forces of Turkey and Iran (directly or indirectly) and a more active participation of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. In combination with the US and Russian military potentials such a coalition might be far more capable and effective than the current one. Russia’s plan for struggle against the Islamic State does not rule out an operation on the ground, something the US-led coalition has preferred to refrain from so far,” Ignatenko said.

He believes it would be quite possible for Russia and the United States to pool efforts to expand the international anti-IS coalition.

“One can imagine some new ways of forging international unity in resistance to the global evil of radical Islamism. Such a coalition might be legalized by the United Nations and receive a mandate from the UN Security Council to fight against the Islamic State. It is not ruled out that the Russian president may voice such a proposal at the UN General Assembly session on September 28,” Ignatenko said.

TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors

Source: TASS. Russian News Agency


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