‘While terror funding allowed, West will be fighting losing battle against ISIS’

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks her work has appeared in major publications: MintPress, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News and many others.Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising - Under The Banner Of The First Imam
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ISIS and its affiliates will spread like cancer across the world if the West doesn’t wake up to the threat of terrorism and stop funding the ideology and using terror as a weapon, says Catherine Shakdam, of the Beirut Center for Middle East Studies.

RT: The UK spent 13 times more to bomb Libya, than to rebuild it. Does this undermine claims that the aim was to create a stable Libya?

Catherine Shakdam: Absolutely, and I think that Libya is just a tip of the iceberg. The fact that the British public now has this information available is going to fuel again this conversation that the great public has had with the government in general, not just in the UK but I would say across Western nations. The wars that have been going on for the past decade have been fueled by this desire to build democracy. ... We know that that wasn’t the case at all. And proof is that very little money has been allocated to rebuilding infrastructure after they were destroyed by Western nations. I think the fact that Libya is not coming back again onto the forefront of the media will fuel this conversation and lead a lot of people to question the real intentions behind those wars.

READ MORE: Britain rules out bombing ISIS in Libya, Iraq-style inquiry into 2011 campaign launched

RT: It's been four years since the Western-backed overthrow of Gaddafi and the country is still in chaos. What does that say about the approach chosen by the Western nations back then?

CS: The main problem is that the public is still under the impression that the UK and their allies- America and other Western nations- went to war in Libya and other places in the Middle East to help those nations, and to help their democracy. We know that is not the case - the reason is if there is chaos now it is because of the way the war has been conducted. We know that the Western nations have very often - to score and forward their own agenda – help funded those very radicals that they now found themselves at war with. That is the great paradox of Western foreign policy, not just the UK here.

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…The UK and their allies again have help fund unrest because they wanted to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi at the time. They themselves created the problem that we are facing now- the radicalism; and this fragmentation of all those militia within Libya which are leading to a lot of unrest, a lot of violence, and the impossibility to build peace because everything has been so chaotic…

RT: Wasn't the chaos we're seeing in Libya now completely predictable?

CS: Absolutely. I think a lot of experts at that time warned that this would happen. We have had experience by now with Iraq for example. We know what happened with the fall of Saddam Hussein. We realize that the democracy that we were sold didn’t happen overnight, and that you cannot impose democracy by waging war on nations. Libya - after a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq - was just a confirmation that those policies do not absolutely work.

… If you look at why those wars were waged - which was essentially to grab, hold and control all the natural resources and geopolitical points in the Middle East - Libya geographically is a very important point for Western nations because they  can have control of the African continent. The same thing for Syria and Iraq.

If we look at those conflicts with this idea that democracy building was the end game of course it’s not working. But now if we look why really those powers went to war in Libya and other places in the Middle East, and we realize that it was all about the natural resources, all about control of certain areas in the world, then the conversation is changing and the dynamic is changing. And of course if you change the context of those wars than the understanding of those wars become more evident I would say. So it was a failure in terms of the public expectation. When it comes to the UK expectation and Western expectation towards what they wanted to see happen in those countries- that is still open to debate. They are benefiting greatly from unrest because of course weapons are selling. A lot of people are making a lot of money.

RT: With ISIS also operating in Libya, is a peace process there even possible?

CS: I honestly don’t think so. But again, we cannot just decide to end diplomacy, and we need to keep trying to install peace and have the Libyan people take control over their own political destiny. But until we address this ideology of terror and until we stop funding this ideology of terror or at least allowing those funds to reach those people, then I think we’re fighting a losing battle. I think that ISIS and its affiliates will continue to spread like cancer across not just the Middle East, but Africa and potentially Asia and even Europe and America. People need to really wake up to this threat, because we talk a lot about how we need to fight ISIS on the ground and how we need to stop them. But I don’t think they have been making efforts to stop the ideology so far. And I’m not talking about pinpointing the blame towards Muslims, and saying that it’s their fault that radicalism is spreading. It is not their fault- it is the fault of the people who are funding this ideology and using terror as a weapon of mass destruction against the world.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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