Event ReportsPublished on Nov 12, 2015
The terror-cadres who have returned home pose a serious threat to India, as they might serve as potential recruiters for the Syrian rebels and start sending young fighters to Syria, says media-veteran-turned-academic, Dr. Sridhar Krishnaswami.
ISIS returnees could pose problem to India

The present unrest in several parts of West Asia is owed to the evangelist-like democratic mission of former US President George Bush, Jr, according to Sridhar Krishnaswami, veteran journalist and head of Journalism & Media Studies at SRM University.

Initiating a discussion on "War in Syria, and Implications for the World and India" at the ORF Chennai Chapter, Krishnaswami said it was difficult to define the ISIS, which is engaged in a war in Syria-Iraq, as neither its ‘territory’, nor ‘administration’ are clear.

Having backed local pro-democracy groups against Syrian ruler Bashar Al Assad over the past years, the West now seems to consider him a lesser evil compared to the ISIS, Krishanswami said.

He noted that the other alternatives to Assad’s leadership too have turned out to be nothing more than a number of rebel factions, which do not see eye-to-eye. The West is also wary of arming any rebel factions as they do not want a repeat of Afghanistan.

Krishnaswami said that nations were worried about putting ‘boots on the ground’ and are feeling safer with aerial strikes to attack the ISIS in Syria. Military missions involving soldiers on the ground could become extremely dangerous and pointless, as countries have very little understanding of the ISIS. Recently the attacks have escalated and several important leaders of the ISIS have been killed in aerial strikes, he recalled.

Russian involvement

Krishnaswami stressed the significance of Bashar Al Assad’s recent visit to Moscow where he was said to have met Russian President Vladimir Putin. This meeting was kept behind blinds until Assad had returned to Syria. Though speculation was rife on the purpose of the visit, he said that it might have been to talk about a power-sharing formula between Assad and the political opposition, which continued to be divided.

Russian forces are carrying out air strikes in parts of Syria for two reasons - one which they claim is based on the request of the Government of Syria to provide them with support, and the other is to protect their assets in Syria.

From among the participants, Sergei L. Kotov, the Consul-General of Russia in Chennai, clarified his nation’s stand on and involvement in Syria. He also stressed that the ISIS should not be identified with religion, and that it was a terror organisation. He brushed aside allegations put forth by some media outfits regarding Russia’s aerial attacks missing ISIS targets and killing innocent people. He said that every Russian bomb dropped in Syria is recorded by the military and is uploaded on their website, which is accessible to the public.

Threat in India?

Touching upon the Indian angle of the ISIS, Krishnaswami said that the terror-cadres who have returned home pose a serious threat, as they might serve as potential recruiters for the Syrian rebels and start sending young fighters to Syria. The Russian CG also shared a similar thought and said that over 500 Russians were fighting for the ISIS in Syria.

Report prepared by Va Ramalingam, ORF Chennai.

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