‘Democratization’ of Iraq opened door for terrorists, Libya a hotbed for ISIS – top Russian general

The US meddling in Arab countries such as Iraq and Libya has turned them into hotbeds of terrorism, the head of the Russian general staff said. Libya, in particular, has become a hub for Islamic State jihadists.

In the long run, American military interventions of the past two decades have only succeeded in fostering terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa, General Valery Gerasimov told an international security conference in Moscow.

WATCH LIVE: Conference on international security kicks off in Moscow

The occupation of Iraq, the disposal of yet another strongman and ‘democratization’ of this country at gunpoint caused the majority of the dispersed military and ousted political elites to form the core of ISIS,” he said.

Similar mistakes were made in Libya, when Western powers decided to use military force to oust its leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the Russian general said.

Libya… practically no longer exists as a state and has become a hotbed for IS and other terrorist groups,” he pointed out.

Gerasimov added that the refugee crisis in Europe is the price it is now paying for destabilizing Arab countries.

Lavrov: 'Use of terrorists as tool must stop'

Russia is suggesting that Western leaders should do their homework and change their behavior, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the conference.

In particular they must stop supporting terrorist groups, which are fighting against Western countries’ political rivals.

Fighting terrorism is a path with many obstacles. Homework needs to be done and actions that degrade the region must cease,” he said. “The use of terrorists as a tool is unacceptable.”

READ MORE: Moscow intl. security forum discusses fight against terrorism, global defense issues

Similar concerns were voiced by Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, one of many foreign dignitaries at the Moscow conference.

We are convinced that the world today lacks safety, stability and fear because of terrorist groups, which are supported by America, Israel and some countries in the region led by Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The terrorism threat is the main topic of the security event, which this year Russia is hosting for the fifth time.