‘US allies against ISIS are actually ISIS’ main allies’
RT:A leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security has shown that since 2010, 13 men with terrorist ties have entered Canada through the US. Why is America ignoring the terrorist threat at home?
Talal Atrache: Since 9/11 the US has dramatically toughened its anti-terrorism laws in order to prevent attacks on its soil. It has increased its security and intelligence cooperation with many countries around the world and it has strongly lobbied the UN Security Council in order to favor anti-terrorist laws. Now the problem is that it’s difficult to draw a clear line between, for example, those who hold violent religious ideologies and those are simply pious and not Islamist terrorists. The states should not discriminate against them just because they pray and go to mosques. It’s not easy to track terrorists because… they are present worldwide, and the US policies in the Middle East have led to an increased number of failed states that have become safe havens for different terrorist groups. These groups have now bases everywhere, and with a progress of technology and means of communication they have found new ways of expanding their worldwide network and to diversify their financial sources. So this is just to say that you can’t create failed states worldwide and separately fight terrorism in the US or other individual countries.
RT:Why has Canada taken no action to stop these crossings of people linked to terrorist cells? Do you think Canada was notified about this?
TA: I don’t know whether Canada was really notified. I suppose there is a strong and very close coordination between Canada and the US in regard to security measures, and they should have been notified. Canada has taken many measures in order to counter terrorism, it has recently toughened its citizenship and immigration laws, it has increased its financial intelligence measures designed at tracking suspects. But many politicians believe that more should be done and there is a project…right now on the table that gives the Canadian security intelligence service more power to probe terrorism and to track suspects. Again, it’s not a domestic problem only; it’s an international issue that has to be dealt with proper international policies.
RT:Is there a connection between the events at Parliament Hill and Canada’s involvement in the US led anti-Islamic State coalition?
TA: Apparently yes, there is an indirect link, because the terrorist who did the attack apparently has some links with ISIS and Al-Qaeda groups, according to what ISIS is claiming right now and according to the profile of the terrorist. But this connection has to be yet proved in a more effective way, and definitely Canada’s involvement in this war has transformed Canada into target for ISIS. In another way, let’s say, even before Canada’s involvement in the US war against ISIS, there were already approximately 100 Canadian jihadists fighting in Syria in the ranks of ISIS. This is just to say again that this terrorism threat is international and not just local, domestic issue in Canada or the US.
RT:Do you think that the idea of anti-IS coalition led by the US is good? Would this policy be successful?
TA: The way that the US is carrying this war is a total failure. Why? Just because the main US allies against ISIS are ISIS’ main allies at the same time. The countries that supported initially and still financed, armed and supported ISIS are within the US coalition right now. And this doesn’t make sense. Turkey, for example, has become a jihadist highway; this is the main place, platform for jihadists. Jihadists are coming all over the world, transited in Turkey and going into Syria with indirect help of the Turkish government - Erdogan has not yet fired a single shot against ISIS. On the contrary, it has even helped, facilitated logistically the ISIS network in order to achieve its goals in Syria which is to topple the Syrian government and to destroy the Kurdish self-administration that has been recently announced. At the same time Saudi Arabia and Qatar have played a strong role since the beginning of the Syrian war in promoting, helping and financing [jihadists]. The US is allied with these countries to fight ISIS, and the main thing would be, the main policy or attitude, is to fight these countries’ policies that consist of supporting indirectly ISIS or Al-Nusra, which is the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, and other extremist groups.
RT:What are the main problems with this US-led coalition fighting ISIS?
TA: The problem now is that, unfortunately, the US is unable to deviate from their dogmatic policy that consists of boycotting the Syrian government, and the US really needs boots on the ground. The only viable option would be to coordinate with the Syrian army, to promote and to help the Syrian army who is the only force willing to pay the heavy price of fighting tens of thousands of ISIS and other jihadists. They estimated that the Syrian army has lost more than 70,000 soldiers fighting mostly the jihadist groups since 2011. It’s unimaginable that any other army in the world would be willing to pay that same price. This is on one side.
On the other [side], the US has done everything to reduce the influence of Syria during the past few years, it did everything it could to reduce the influence of Syria, Iran, BRICS group, including Russia and China, which happens to be the most qualified potential partners for the US campaign on terror. The main problem is that the US should change its allies if it really wants to fight terrorism, and to join forces with Russia, China, Iran, Syria, that is the principle, the main country concerned in this war. And on the other hand, to implement all the anti-terrorist laws against Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar who are in the US coalition.
There are many UN resolutions that have been passed in 2001, and here I can recall mainly the resolution 1373 that punishes any country that directly or indirectly supports terrorism. In this aspect the countries that should be targeted for supporting terrorism are Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries like Kuwait at the same time. So it’s a matter of changing alliances and stopping this dogmatic policy that leads nowhere except [to] failing states all over the Middle East from Syria to Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan. American policy in the Middle East has been a total failure, it just created safe haven for terrorists.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.