Event ReportsPublished on Aug 09, 2014
If the ISIS is not brought under control, the chances are that it could spread to Pakistan, especially Waziristan, a tribal region which plays host to most terror outfits. This could in turn affect India by means of border infiltrations.
From 'clash of civilisations' to 'clashes within civilisations'
Taking note of the 'ISIS conflict' in Iraq, the 'Syrian civil war', and differences within Islamic groups, including governments, in nations such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, Dr Sridhar Krishnaswami said the era is now changing from the 'clash of civilisation' to 'clashes within the civilisations'

Dr. Krishnaswamy, Head of the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication, S R M University, Chennai, was initiating a discussion on "Rumblings in West Asia and consequences for South Asia" at the Chennai Chapter of Observer Research Foundation.

Dr. Krishnaswamy also discussed the support that ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has been drawing across the globe. He noted that a bulk of those joining the ISIS is not the youth, but those who are well into their middle ages. He said there were reports of several Indian jihadists falling in line with ISIS.

As Dr Krishnaswami pointed out, the American CIA might covertly arm the Kurds in the region to protect them as well as to curb the advance of the ISIS, as they had done during the 'Soviet occupation' of Afghanistan. However, Turkey, an American ally, may not be happy with the decision to arm the Kurds, which could contribute to the possible cretion of a 'Kurdistan'. Though the US has authorised an aerial strike on ISIS strongholds, they may not have boots on the ground. The reason, Dr Krishnaswami said, owed to US Congressional elections later this year, after which campaign for the next presidential polls could commence, as always In this background, US President Barack Obama is hence on the defensive and has put out drones over regions of Iraq, if only to ensure that American lives are not lost, nor their fighter-pilots taken hostage, particularly in an election year.

Syria, Russia's last outpost

The ISIS originated in Syria, and Russia being a strong supporter of Syria let this militant organisation grow, Dr Sridhar said. It is a bigger threat as Syria is the home ground for the ISIS. Russia looks at Syria as its last outpost in West Asia/Middle East. There is also a widespread fear that the ISIS may get hold of chemical and biological weapons., the speaker added.

Dr. Krishnaswamy pointed out that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has to be partly blamed. He kept the Shias closer to him and appointed them in key posts which in turn angered the Sunnis, who felt being left out. Even President Obama was miffed at Maliki as he played for political gains. It is a known fact that all West Asian countries would look up to Saudi Arabia, as the latter keep funding all the operations of extremist Sunnis.

During the discussion, Mr M R Sivaraman, former Revenue Secretary, Government of India, who had worked with a post-9/11 UN commssion on international terrosim, said if the ISIS is not brought under control, the chances are that it could spread to Pakistan, especially Waziristan, a tribal region which plays host to most terror outfits. This could in turn affect India by means of border infiltrations.

Speaking on the implications to South Asia, Dr. Krishnaswamy said the ISIS could have a great impact in several countries. Pakistan and its adjoining border with Afghanistan, which is always known to be the safe haven for all terror outfits, might gain momentum. Towards the end of this year, after the scheduled withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, such movements could fuel the return of Taliban. A new threat that is to be taken note of is the issue in Sri Lanka. A few months ago, there were claims that Muslims in the island nation were targeted, harassed and persecuted. This could also be a destabilising factor in Sri Lanka.

It's for Israel to decide

Israel and Palestine is another issue that Dr. Krishnaswamy touched upon. He said the issue would not be sorted out until the Israelis decided to do so. He said that the Hamas, which has a greater say in the Palestinian Authority, has been derailing efforts at establishing peace within the region. They are an extremist group and have aimed at annihilating the State of Israel, instead of trying to work on the two-State theory.

Dr Krishnaswami pointed out the irony in George W. Bush's agenda after getting elected as the US President. He was set to give a talk on democracy in West Asia and he chose Saudi Arabia as his first destination. This seemed to have created ripples across several countries. It is said that this move led to the uprisings in West Asia and contributed to the fall of several dictators. He said the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 disturbed the region, and today's scenario is also an offshoot of the same.

(This report is prepared by Ramalingam Va, B A III Year (Journalism & Mass Communication) S R M University, Chennai)

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