Moscow-New Delhi video linkup: Experts critical of US led fight against Islamic State

The IS has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. Source: Reuters

The IS has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. Source: Reuters

At a video conference hosted by Rossiya Segodnya, experts largely agreed that military action alone is not enough to defeat the IS.

The success of the international coalition formed by the United States to fight against Islamic State (IS) militants is dubious, because its efforts fail to address the root cause of the problem, experts said last week during the Moscow-New Delhi video linkup hosted by International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya.

“The root cause and the solution [of the IS problem] is within Iraq,” Shri Dayakar, former ambassador of India to Iraq and Jordan said, noting that external powers can play a role in eliminating the IS threat only after the internal conflict in Iraq is resolved.

According to Dayakar, IS militants are using the long-standing conflict between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis to draw more people into their ranks. The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is a radical Sunni group, and the tensions between Shias and Sunnis in Iraq make it easy for IS militants to recruit Sunnis.

“Sunnis are not yet [commited to defeat the IS]. Once the Sunnis are on the board, there can be a roll back [of the IS] at least on the Iraqi side,” Dayakar noted, adding that “Sunnis are needed both to provide the manpower [in the fight against the IS] and also to deny the sanctuary for these IS people.”

Fazzur Rahman Siddiqui, a Research Fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi stressed that “the division [between the Shiites and the Sunnis] has been so deep and so rooted” in Iraq, that it has become a major obstacle in the fight against the IS.

Siddiqui noted that military action alone is not enough to defeat the IS and that members of the US-led coalition need to “see the after-effects implicated in the long-term” consequences of the airstrikes they are launching against IS positions in Iraq and Syria.

Meanwhile, P.R. Kumaraswamy, Professor at the School of International Studies of the Centre for West Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, emphasized that there is no agreement among coalition members on how to address the IS threat.

“There is no international consensus on what to do with the Islamic caliphate [proclaimed by the IS on the territories under its control in Iraq and Syria],” Kumaraswamy noted, adding that “extremism has expanded [in the region] over [the past 30] years.”

According to Kumaraswamy, “the real problem is a very narrow extremist xenophobic interpretation of [the Islamic] religion” and “dropping a bomb or [launching] military action will not solve the problem, it can only escalate [the situation] and lead to more issues.”

The IS has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, it launched an offensive in northern and western Iraq. In August, the United States authorized limited airstrikes against IS targets in Iraq. Washington extended its airstrikes against the militants into Syria in September, after US President Barack Obama announced his decision to form an international anti-IS coalition.

More than 60 states, including the Arab league and a number of European countries have already joined the US efforts aimed at eliminating the IS threat.

Russia and India are not part of the anti-IS coalition.

First published by RIA Novosti.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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