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News Analysis: Iraq on a par with Syria in fighting terrorism

English.news.cn   2014-06-17 17:29:02

DAMASCUS, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's current crisis with the jihadist groups could play out good for Syria if the international community decides to battle terrorism in Iraq, as the powers can't fight the radical groups in Iraq and leave them active in Syria, analysts said.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida breakaway group, has recently made surprising advances in Iraq, seizing considerable swathes of land in the troubled country. The ISIL has also been active in Syria, mainly in the northeastern al- Raqqa province all the way to the eastern oil-rich region of Deir al-Zour bordering Iraq.

Specifically, the al-Qaida splinter group today controls areas that stretch from Nineveh and part of al-Anbar region in western Iraq to the northern countryside of Syria's northwestern province of Aleppo, bordering Turkey.

The group's control also stretch from northern countryside of Deir al-Zour to the south of al-Hasaka province, in addition to large swathes of the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour and the entire western countryside of that oil-rich province toward the al- Raqqa province, the main base of the group in Syria.

The group, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who commands as many as 10,000 fighters, said its goal is to establish an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria and to fight the Shiite government of Nouri al- Maliki and the administration of President Bashar al-Assad, whose top ranks are from the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

In Iraq, the group is still pushing with a wide-scale offensive in many Iraqi areas, hoping to reach the capital Baghdad while in Syria the group's sway is still confined to northeastern and eastern regions.

Still, in Syria's case the group is plagued with infighting against other rival rebel groups, mainly the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front. Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands displaced as a result of the rebel-on-rebel battles.

The areas where the ISIL now is fighting, in eastern Syria and western Iraq, are rich in oil and water.

The international community has been urged to take a stance to put an end to the expansion of the ISIL, which has been declared a terrorist organization by many Western countries. Meetings and discussions so far have resulted in no outright decision to send foreign troops into Iraq, even though the very same option is not excluded and could be around the corner as there is an international consensus on the need to help Iraq in its war against the ISIL, according to observers.

The very decision to fight terrorism in Iraq could benefit the Syrian government, which has been deadlocked in prolonged battles against an array of jihadist groups, manly the rival groups ISIL and Nusra Front.

"Today after expanding in Iraq, this group (ISIL) has proven that it has an agenda which is controlling the triangle of water and oil in both countries," Maher Murhej, a Syrian politician and opposition figure, told Xinhua.

He said that for the first time people have started to hear remarks from Western powers on the need to combat terrorism in Iraq and in Syria too. "They have started to feel that this monster that they have unleashed is now posing a threat to their interests in the region and I believe that they (West) have a hand in supporting this group in the first stages, probably indirectly, but ISIL sway has gone larger than the West planned."

"They wanted this group to fight against the Syrian government but when it has expanded and almost reached the outskirts of Baghdad, the western powers started to feel threatened," Murhej said.

He expressed the belief that there will be "serious decisions" on combating terrorism at the United Nations Security Council, adding that the new resolutions would be more inclusive "because there is no place for double standards in the current phase."

"You can't fight the ISIL in Iraq without fighting them in Syria, particularly now after they (ISIL) seized weapons depots in Iraq and transferred them into Syria," Murhej said. "If there is an international decision to fight terrorism in Iraq, it would cover Syria as well."

Murhej, who heads the Syrian Youth Party, said even if the international community does not adopt a resolution on fighting terrorism in Iraq, the very situation in Iraq would give Iran and Russia, both main allies to the Syrian government, more legitimacy to support counter-terrorism efforts in Syria.

"Fighting terrorism in Iraq is surely a positive thing for Syria because 70 percent of the war in Syria is against terrorism and the other 30 percent are people who still believe in the so- called Syrian revolution," he said.

Meanwhile, Bassam Abu Abdullah, a political researcher, told Xinhua that the expansion of the ISIL is now embarrassing the Western powers' counter-terrorism policy because they can't fight the terrorism in Iraq and persist in lending it a deaf ear in Syria.

Counter-terrorism efforts must be coordinated between Iraq and Syria and granted an international cover and an exertion of all possible efforts to stop the spread of terrorism in the region, he said.

Editor: Tang Danlu
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