‘We need all-pervasive strategy against ISIS involving everyone’ – Admiral Alan West
Russian Navy warships have joined the anti-terror operation by firing missiles from the Caspian Sea at ISIS positions in Syria.
RT: Warships have now entered the fold. How will they help Russian counter-terrorist operation?
Admiral Lord West: I think using all arms is very valuable and clearly there’ve been … the targets that have spotted by people on the ground and using ship-based missiles is a very good way of doing that. We do it, of course, using TacToms and things like that, so, it is their equivalent of that, that’s useful. But I think the most important thing is that we’ve got to defeat and destroy ISIL – they are the most dangerous thing to all of the nations in the world. I describe them as ‘the wolf closest to the shed’. We must destroy them and then think about getting security and peace to Syria. But the first thing is to destroy ISIL. And we can only do that, I believe, if the whole coalition is involved with Russia and also Iran, and, I am afraid, also with Assad. No matter how much some of us in the West don’t like Assad, it has got to be all those people involved because we’ve got to destroy ISIL - that is the first priority.
RT: It’s been a huge game changer this week with Russia getting involved because frankly the situation was going backwards before, wasn’t it?
AW: I won’t say it was going backwards but I’ve been saying for a long time – we need a comprehensive, agreed strategic plan for how we move forward. And it is no good just doing airstrikes, you have to have boots on the ground somehow, they have to be there. And also one needs to actually go to the heartland of ISIL which is within Syria. I am sure in time they will be pushed out to Iraq, I am sure they will. But that still leaves Syria. So, we’ve got to resolve that problem and it is highly complex and very difficult.
RT: Russia has maintained so far that there will be no foot on the ground. Why is Russia saying that won’t happen? Could it practically help this ongoing fight or is this something that should be avoided at all cost?
AW: I think the involvement of either Russian or American, British or French ground troops in Syria will be an error at the moment. But at some stage there will have to be boots on the ground. And, perhaps, we will look at something like Egyptian or Jordanian - their non-sectarian type troops and forces - to go into certain areas what would have to be done in conjunction with an agreement from Assad because he has boots on the ground there. And then what Russia, America and ourselves [UK] and other countries can provide is the air capability, reconnaissance capability. We never talk about special forces, but I am sure they will be involved. And it needs to be a very comprehensive strategy; we need to absolutely take on ISIL in the propaganda sphere which we haven’t done as well as we should have done. We need to absolutely strangle all their money supplies, which we haven’t done properly yet. And it needs to be an all-pervasive strategy and it has to include everyone. Iran has to be involved; they have Hezbollah fighters actually on the ground there. So, it has to involve all these people. And it is no good being sort of ‘namby pamby’ about it saying: “I don’t like them.” At the end of the day ISIL want to kill our people…
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