Hyderabad, Sep 19 (IANS) The Islamic State (IS) is a direct threat to US and to suggest that US created the group or is supporting it is “preposterous”, said a senior US State Department official, noting the the US is doing everything it can to defeat IS, in coordination with 66 countries.
“That is absolutely ridiculous. ISIL is a direct threat to our own national security. To suggest that we support ISIL is preposterous,” Jared Caplan, director of the Department of State’s London Media Hub, told IANS during an official visit here.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was the name earlier used by the IS before it started boasting of a wider global reach.
Asked to react on allegations in various quarters that US created IS, funded and armed it, Caplan, who is also the State Department’s Arabic spokesperson, said US was not only carrying out air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq but is also stopping flow of foreign fighters, checking radicalisation, turning off flow of finance and working to defeat its ideology.
“We are trying to expose their true nature as a group of thugs and terrorists who have hijacked religion in the name of their own goals,” he said.
On whether IS is a bigger threat than Al Qaeda, he said it was not helpful to compare them.
“Terrorism knows no borders. We have seen ISIL metastasized into international franchises,” he said referring to the terror attacks in Libya, France, Belgium and other countries.
“ISIL is a real threat not just to Syrians and Iraqis but to neighbouring countries, to our allies in region, to Europe and ultimately a threat to US and that is why President (Barack) Obama said despite the long term nature of campaign, we are committed to win war however long it takes.”
The US official described winning the war against IS, the situation in Syria, and threat from its Bashar al-Assad regime as long-term challenges before the US.
Terming the situation in Syria as “very complicated” given the number of players and the amount of external factors involved, he said at the end, it is the Syrian people who have to decide their future.
Caplan believes that the seven-day cessation of hostilities agreed by the US and Russia could be the most promising way to end the war, as this could lead to partnering with Russians through Joint Implementation Centre to launch joint operations against IS.
He is of the opinion that if the plan succeeds, they can move forward on the political track to solve the Syrian crisis. US wants United Nations to be involved in the negotiations to find a solution.
He reiterated the US stand that Assad has lost legitimacy and agrees with the Syrian opposition that there is no room for him in the country’s future.
“One of the most complicating factors is that Bashar al-Assad created a power vacuum in much of the country… ISIL and terrorist organisations have occupied that. Syrian people are caught between a dictator and terrorist organisations.”
Stating that US is extending all assistance to moderate opposition, he said Obama was not in favour of sending troops on ground, apparently guided by previous experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Caplan said Obama’s foreign policy guided by diplomacy helped in stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon to threaten US allies in Middle East. He claimed that US relationship with the Arab world and at large with Muslim majority countries was better than what it was after 9/11.
He pointed out that after the 9/11, US tried different ways to communicate with Arab world and to tell its story directly. He believes the Arabic language television channel, radio stations and magazine was the important measure US took to fix the perception gap.
Noting that the number of students from Muslim majority countries studying in US far exceeds than what it was before 9/11, he said this indicate that US corrected lot of problems. “They come to our country, understand our system go back and tell that media portrayals, caricatures and stereotypes are not accurate. That helps sharing the real American story very effectively.”
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at email@example.com)