Wiesława Lewandowska talks with dr. Jan Bury about causes of ineffectiveness of the big anti-terrorist coalition
WIESŁAWA LEWANDOWSKA: - In one of our earlier interviews you expressed your concern that the Near East might become a cause of the Third World War. Today Polish military experts assure that despite the more and more threatening situation in this region – in Syria there is a civil war, the so-called Islamic State is functioning, Russia in intervening as well as some NATO countries – we cannot say about the world war. Isn’t there really a cause for any concerns?
DR. JAN BURY: - There is, indeed. We live in very uneasy times, much more uneasy than at the time of the Cold War, because at that time the whole world system was, however, more stabilized and predictable. At present we have a conflict of powerful countries and big interests, begun in the 90s of XX century by the USA. Within it, the United States has been implementing unilateralism in the international politics for some time, that is, it has been making its own decisions concerning matters of the world and imposes them on its western allies, not considering international law.
- The present geopolitical situation could be described as quite an uneasy imbalance of forces.
- Today we can even speak about a new more complicated ‘cold war’. It was brought about during the Arabic spring in 2011 and later by events in Ukraine on the turn of 2013 and 2014. Moreover we have a kind of a ‘substitute war’ in Syria, fostered by powerful countries of both parties.
- We can see there a particular activity of Russia defending Baszar al-Asada from rebels attacking him, and recently, of France – bombarding positions of the Islamists in revenge for assassinations in Paris. We see particular engagement of Turkey, whereas the presence of the United States seems to be less visible…
- This is what a substitute war is based on, that the main participants are hardly visible or their roles are hardly clear. But I think that in Syria the role of America has been clear since the year 2011. Today we can see it in the rhetoric of president Barack Obama’ speeches, in which he accuses Russia of bombarding the so-called moderate Syrian opposition aiming at overcoming regime of Al-Asad.
- And isn’t it so?
- There is no moderate opposition there, all rebels are extremists; they are trained and radicalized in suitable camps, for example, on the area of Katar, in preparations of traps for the Syrian army, in killing wounded soldiers, etc. Today it is not possible to divide the fighting Syrian opposition in respect to political preferences – everyone is radical in the same way and equipped with modern weapon.
- In Syria there is a fight with regime of Al-Asad, as well as a fight with terrorism. Paradox is the fact that those who defend the regime, are also fighting with terrorists. It is really difficult to understand what the global war with terrorism is based on today.
- It is based on realizing the so-called doctrine of Wolfowitz, which shows that the purpose of the United States in the foreign policy is preventing rebuilding of any empire – mainly Russia – which might threaten hegemony of the United States in the world with its potential. And it is also all about in Syria.
- Do you think that the war against terrorism after the year 2001, consequently after the assassination at the WTC in New York, is only a global substitute war?!
- I think so. This is a war about hegemony, about dominance in the world. Therefore, the government of Saddam Husajn, favourable to Russia was liquidated in 2003, and in 2011 colonel Kaddafi in Libya was removed, as well as interests of Russia and China from Northern Africa. Russia finds it difficult to return there now through Egypt. Traditional partners of Russia in the Near East are: Iran, Syria and northern Sudan. These countries resist influences of America which is forced to pursue a guerilla war there through supporting various military groups, for example, it was once supporting a Lebanon Islamic Military Group, in fact the jihads of Al-Kaida sign.
- Why doesn’t the biggest empire of the world attack the bastion of terrorism directly and suitable strongly?
- It must be afraid of losing essential force which is fighting with Al-Asad. And Syria and the neighbouring country Iran – which is a real regional empire today – are joined with a political and military alliance, so it is not possible to repeat the Lebanon scenario and attack with NATO forces, as then, indeed, the Third World War would begin in the Near East.
- Because then Russia will not forgive…
- Certainly, not! Russia began an air operation in Syria to the request of Damascus, attacking all opponents of Al-Asad – even protected by Turkmen’s Turkey – because maintaining him in authority is a matter of life and death for Russia. It concerns maintaining the Russian base in Tarus city at the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, Russia is afraid that when only the Syrian jihadists overcome Al-Asad, at once in Damascus there will appear a pro-western government which will agree to build pipelines and gas pipes from the Persian bay through the territory of Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey to Europe and then Russia will simply go bankrupt. So, for Russia it is then a matter of staying alive – after all, it still lives by a gas-oil drip.
- So, it is going to be difficult for people in the West to understand that jihadists - who are scaring the West so much today – may lead to establishment of the pro-western government in Syria!
- Yet! Then it will turn out that in fact they are marionettes in the hands of the West. In my opinion, today in the world there are not any self-born terrorists – there are only mercenaries or agents of governments. First of all, those who are just fighting in Syria today – mainly for money. Certainly, this all leads to tragedies of millions of people who would like to get to a safe asylum which is Europe today.
- What role is played in the region by the so-called Islamic State residing on the territory of Syria and Iraq?
- There are two theories concerning the genesis and purpose of its establishment. The first onebut – derives from an Iraq network of Al-Kaida and is a product created among the others, by former officers of Saddam Husajn in order to resist influences of the West. However, it is hardly probable, as in such a case it would be a small Islamist movement. According to another version, the current Islamic State is directly supported financially, logistically and militarily by rich Arabic countries from the Persian Bay, whereas Turkey and Jordan help in this procedure, by opening borders, and allowing for training jihadists on their territory. In my opinion the Islamic State is convenient for the West and is perfectly composed into neo-conservative plans of controlling the Near East, where influences of Iran are quite strong and where oil which still causes that everybody aggressively attack one another.
- However, it seems that no matter what its genesis is, ISIS has already come out of any kind of control.
- There are also two thesis on this issue. One of them is that the Islamic State is still being controlled by the West, and another one – that its fighters said ‘no’: we are fed up with being marionettes and being used for purposes of western policy. They want their own independent state.
- But it requires a lot of money!
- Therefore they are still developing their economic activity: they sell crude oil, stolen things on the black market – mainly with Turkey which is quite open to this trade. Even the USA government estimated that everyday profits of the Islamic State from illegal trade of crude oil are about a million dollars, although they sell this crude oil at a price by 2-3 times lower than the market price. According to other estimations, this daily profit of ISIS may be even 3 million dollars.
- Where do they get this crude oil from?
- From Syrian refineries. Certainly, in Syria there is not so much crude oil, unlike in the countries of the Persian Bay, but, anyway, one can earn lots of money from it. So, for nearly 1.5 year the jihadists could earn even a million dollars. They finance their activity from it, and pay their mercenaries, allegedly purchasing modern weapon from the so-called moderate opposition…
- Yes, that is for this reason, that the so-called moderate opposition in Syria is a smokescreen, a political passkey for various interpretations, explanations. These are the allegedly moderate Turkmen oppositionists who, at the Syrian-Turkish border and with shouts ‘Allah Akbar’, killed a pilot falling on a parachute from a Russian plane shot down over Syria by the Turks, and then they were dancing around his body…In fact, the only really moderate opposition are the Kurds there.
- And they are a problem of mainly Turkey. How serious?
- For dozens years Turkey has not tried to give privileges to the Kurds. It did not give any help during a conquer of the Syrian city Kobane (in fact Ajn al-Arab) near the Turkish border when the Kurds were bravely fighting with the jihadists of the Islamic State for four months.
- Turkey is very afraid of realization of Kurdish aspirations, that is, establishing an independent Kurdish country?
- Since the 80s of the last century such a ‘country’ exists in fact on the territory of Iraq; even during the times of Saddam Husajn, the Kurds enjoyed their high autonomy there, about which hardly anyone knows…Since the 90s they have been building their statehood in northern Iraq but it must move to the Turkish side, anyway. Turkey does not want to allow for it and is bombarding them as much as it can…
- Today, in fact we do not really know who, whom and why is bombarding there! Only intentions of the French seem to be clear, who are trying to destroy purposes of the Islamic State in revenge for assassinations in Paris.
- Indeed, here we have a lot of chaos. The Jordanians were already flying over purposes of the Islamists, there were air raids of air forces of Arabic Emirates…. When Russia started bombarding in October 2015, it concluded an agreement with NATO that there would not be any fights with NATO planes. It seems that after the terroristic attack of the Islamic State on Paris president Francois Hollande wanted to pursue a war against ISIS together with Russia….After the assassination on ‘Charlie Hebdo’ in the beginning of 2015, Hollande admitted to his hesitations towards embargo imposed on Russia by EU countries. Now he might be ready to pursue an operation in Syria together with Russia, but it would not rather be approved of in Washington…
- And so much is said about a big world coalition for fight with terrorism…
- ISIS was established in June 2014 and soon after that a big coalition of a several dozen countries set off to fight against it, but it failed because the Islamic State is spreading more and more effectively, gaining more and more weapon, means from illegal trade of crude oil. It also started spreading in other regions: there is a self-proclaimed Islamic State in Libya, Nigeria and Somalia. There are plans to establish a global caliphate.
- Is it really difficult to realize the dream of the West about an effective worldwide coalition for fight with terrorism?
- To be honest, I doubt whether there are such dreams. Such a coalition is fiction, is simply impossible, if over 50 countries have not done anything in this matter and the Islamic country was developing, growing in power! We can say that only Russia achieved its purposes, which has hit the very essence of functioning the Islamic State, that is, its logistics and economy connected with trade of crude oil. It used a ricochet to hit the interests of the Turkish ‘state in state’, that is, groups connected with ISIS Islamists in a businesslike way. So, maybe that is why there was the unexpected attack on the Russian plane…
- Who has got the biggest advantage of today’s fear of Europe? Russia?
- In my opinion, the most powerful ones are – the United States. We live at the times of ruthlessness of politics, steered by very narrow groups of interest, which do not follow inner laws of their countries, or international law. And it leads to a tragedy. To all kinds of substitute wars, like the one in Syria, in which big influences of the West and the East clash with each other. And this is really dangerous because due to such wars also the Islamic State is growing in power.