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Contradictions between Arab states hinder fight against Islamic State - experts

July 07, 2015, 19:49 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© AP Photo Archive/Hatem Moussa

MOSCOW, July 7. /TASS/. It is impossible to stop terror by air strikes on ISIS strongholds, and to counter the group, there should be a broad international coalition, whose formation is hindered by sectarian and political differences between Arab states, experts interviewed by TASS say.

The IS army already has 50,000 militants, with 30,000 based in Syria and 20,000 in Iraq. At least 15,000 jihadists aged 15 to 35 come from abroad. Experts say that people of 80 nationalities have joined the Islamic. Moreover, 38 radical groups based on territories from Europe to South Arabia and from West Africa to South-East Asia have sworn allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Syria and the countries of the region must unite to fight the Islamic State and Russia is ready to facilitate dialogue between the countries, President Vladimir Putin said on June 29 at a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for the involvement of the Syrian army and the opposition in a coalition against the Islamic State. "This applies to Syrian Kurds, and other countries in the region, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia," Lavrov said. The minister also said that "we do not impose any schemes, we just see that contradictions that exist between a number of states in the region distract attention from the main task — the task of fighting terror, and these contradictions can wait, they are not a priority."

President of the Middle East Institute Yevgeny Satanovsky is skeptical about the prospects for Arab unity in the fight against ISIS. "Arab countries are unable to unite. And they just won’t unite with Syria. Even Iran, which is fighting against IS militants, is fiercely hated by Persian monarchies. Qatar will definitely not fight against the IS because it is Qatar that once created the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. This is a great religious war, and there are no simple recipes to avert it," Satanovsky told TASS.

"The low-intensity war against the Islamic State waged by the so-called international coalition led by the US, will continue indefinitely long, because by conducting air strikes on militant strongholds Washington counts on participation in this war, not on a victory. The Islamic State does not disturb America, in principle. The longer the war against the IS is waged, the longer the line of Arab countries, who want to buy American weapons, will be for the Pentagon. Therefore, Washington is not interested in carrying out a ground operation, which would be the only effective means to stop the IS," the expert concluded.

"Some Arab countries are not only reluctant to unite with Syria to fight against the IS, but are also making plans to annex the territories currently occupied by militants in Syria with Sunni Muslims living there," President of the Middle East Institute Alexander Ignatenko told TASS. "In this sense, Putin’s and Lavrov’s calls on the Middle East states to unite in the face of the threat of IS expansion aim to warn them against sliding into an even more acute stage of the intraregional conflict," said the orientalist.

According to the expert from the Center for Arab Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Boris Dolgov, the Russian leadership has shown the correct, reasoned approach to IS expansion, but appeals to Arab countries to unite in the fight against radical Islam are for several reasons difficult to achieve. "In the Arab world, the attitude towards the Sunni Islamic State is dictated by various sectarian, political and ideological motives. Many residents of the Sunni countries - Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia - are sympathetic to the IS ideas on the establishment of a fair state based on the Quran, although this is a myth. In IS militants, the Gulf monarchies see if not brothers in spirit, then associates close in faith. Therefore, Saudi Arabia, for example, with US support, initially assisted the IS in its fight against Assad’s Syrian army. And still there are unofficial reports that independent Islamic funds finance the IS while Turkish businessmen secretly buy oil from IS militants," Dolgov told TASS.

"Political differences between Arab countries on the IS are in the fact that all the Gulf countries aim to overthrow Syrian leader Bashar Assad. Objectively, these countries are aware of the danger of IS expansion. And both for them and Turkey, it is a real threat. But the political and ideological dogmas are stronger than arguments for security", the expert continued.

"Nevertheless, Arab countries will be forced to heed the calls of the Russian leadership to join forces in the fight against the IS, because there is no other way for the Middle East states to prevent the occupation of territories and to defeat terror," Boris Dolgov said.

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