Aggressive actions by the so-called “Islamic State”, which is also known as ISIS, threaten the future of Iraq as well as that of its neighbouring countries, including Syria. Moreover, the terrorists have openly declared their intention to edge the whole region of the Middle East and North Africa to the abyss of religious wars and to impose on Muslims unacceptable attitudes towards other confessions and the outside world. They murder and humiliate Christians; they advertise their horrific executions of journalists and aid workers. All this is absolutely has nothing to do with genuine values of Islam as one of the world’s leading religions.
In order to effectively address the terrorist challenge, it is imperative to understand its roots and real scale and to develop a comprehensive strategy. The resolve to fight all forms and manifestations of terrorism without distinguishing between “bad” and “good” terrorists has always been at the centre of international anti-terrorist efforts. Regrettably, in the Middle East and North Africa, this cornerstone principle has begun to fail. In Libya, some countries turned a blind eye to the rise of extremists. We now see what Libya looks like today as a result of such reckless policies, and what consequences they have had on the region, including Syria. The fact that President al-Assad was declared by some “illegitimate” more than three years ago, has prevented a timely and adequate response to the surge of terrorist groups in Syria.
In Iraq itself, the post-Saddam situation was badly mismanaged, thus bringing it into the turmoil of a prolonged civil war and creating a huge risk of its falling apart. Russia welcomes the intention of Iraqi leaders to overcome that legacy and to promote national reconciliation, and consistently stands for the continued independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. We strongly support the inclusive political process with a view to ensuring accord among all political fractions and ethno-confessional groups in that country.
If we want to achieve success, all our actions must be based on a firm and clear understanding that the rise of extremism constitutes the main threat to the region. All states, both in the region and outside, who are genuinely committed to oppose terrorists should unite in deeds, not just in words. A truly collective approach should be developed through putting our minds and capabilities together. And of course, we must build our common action on the solid foundation of United Nations Charter and UN counter-terrorist instruments and mechanisms. We face the same enemies in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, and there is no room for double standards. For instance, no one may attack ISIS positions in Syria’s territory without coordination with the Syrian government. The terrorist threat is too serious to be addressed from a position of ideological bias and disregard for international law. Syria, as well as Iran, is a natural ally of the international community in the fight against ISIL.
Russia has already provided concrete military and other relevant assistance to strengthen the counterterrorist capability of Iraq, Syria and other frontline states of the region. Moreover, we propose to initiate a deep and comprehensive study of extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa through the UN Security Council. We believe it is necessary to address root causes, not just the symptoms of the rise of extremism.
We hope that the outcomes of the International Conference on Peace and Security in Iraq held in Paris on 15 September will help address the needs of the government of Iraq and contribute to mobilizing practical support for more concerted global counterterrorist efforts under the auspices of the United Nations.