Saturday, 15 August 2015

Dateline London - 15/08/2015

Mina al-Oraibi: "Assad's forces are pulling back, not because of Daesh (ISIS), it's actually Nusra, so al-Qaida affiliates, and other Turkish-backed and Western-backed groupings of fighters. There's a lot going on in Syria, as there is in Iraq a lot going on, that's actually independent of ISIS. The problem is, that what is going on, especially in the West, is that everyone looks at the Middle East now through the prism of ISIS, which is kind of what they want you to do. They want to claim victories that are actually not their own. They are fighting in a way that is much more guerrilla warfare, but not strong guerrilla warfare. They're not able to hold ground, like they used to be. There are current fights in Syria that they are just keeping out of, and letting others fight among themselves.
   The air campaign will never win, and everybody knows that. What you're going to need is governance on lands they control now, and that is the big problem in Syria, and that is the problem in Iraq. Iraq has been witnessing protests for over a week, where people are going out onto the streets and calling for secularism, in eleven provinces. That's how you will fight ISIS, that you will call for a secular, or let's say a government for all its citizens regardless of religion. The fact that you have people braving the heat of Iraq, and also braving the possibility of bomb attacks on them, and braving a security force that is not always predictable inside of Iraq. To go out and protest, and call for a secular government, that's how you will defeat ISIS in the end, not by air bombing. And you can actually support those sort of movements.
   And the same could be said of Syria. Syria, all sorts of strange groupings are actually being supported at the moment. Some that are al-Qaida affiliated, and it's almost like it's OK, as long as they're not ISIS, we can live with them. No, we can't live with them. That shouldn't be the low bar that we have. The only way this region will get out of the rut it's in now, is to say, hang on, there are values we will fight for, because that's what the people of the region actually want. And these aren't slogans, that's the reality. So the air campaign can go on infinitely. There's very dubious reporting about who is actually being killed in these airstrikes. We don't know, we're only taking what the government feeds to us, whether it's the US government or governments in the GUlf. Journalists are attacked by ISIS, and it's become very convenient on all sides not to have journalists telling us what's going on on the ground. So, in a nutshell, the air campaign will never succeed, but there are some promising signs on the ground, Syria we've seen some very interesting diplomacy, with Kerry, Lavrov, and the Saudi foreign minister. So there's some movements on the ground, but it has to be coupled with a political solution that doesn't just mean that as long as it's not ISIS it's acceptable."

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