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US-backed ‘liberators’ of Raqqa are just ISIS fighters with shaved beards: Syrian envoy

Sadiq Naqvi | Updated on: 20 October 2017, 2:07 IST
(Sadiq Naqvi)

The takeover of Raqqa, the-so called Islamic State’s capital in Syria, by US-backed coalition forces is nothing but a change of flag. “It is not liberation,” says Riad Kamel Abbas, the Syrian Ambassador to New Delhi.

“The black flag of the ISIS has changed to that of the coalition,” he says, claiming that the forces US is supporting now in Raqqa are old ISIS fighters but with shaved beards. “From the beginning we have been saying that all terror groups get support from the US. This coalition is also supported by the Americans. The ISIS operatives shaved their beards, entered this coalition and announced that Raqqa is liberated,” he says. The ISIS leaders are directly in contact with the American CIA, Abbas claims.

“How can you imagine that this bunch of people with long dirty beards can take on the might of the American and Russian forces?” he asks.

Abbas says these 'mercenaries' have support from the American and the Turkish intelligence and funding from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. There is no such thing as an American coalition against terror groups. “Who would believe that US Army, the most powerful in the world, cannot defeat ISIS?”

Abbas, who has been in New Delhi for many years now says all the regional countries which were involved in the Syrian issue are ending up with burnt fingers. “Saudi Arabia fanned the flames in Syria and now look what they are facing in Yemen. Look at Qatar which was deeply involved in what was happening in Syria. Turkey got involved in Syria and now look what is happening in the North of their country where the Kurds are demanding independence. Syria gave rights to the Kurds and this decision disturbed the Kurdish government,” the ambassador points out.

“This is the Syrian game. They play games inside Syria and the Syrian government returns the favour by playing these games in Turkey and Yemen,” he says. Abbas says no issue in the region can be solved without a solution to the Syrian problem. No solution is visible in the near future on the problems between Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council, he says while explaining how Syria is at the root of the problem of what is going on between Qatar and other Gulf states.

Abbas claims that the real fighters against terrorism are Syria, Russia and Iran. “The Syrian government does not care about Barack Obama or Donald Trump.  It is doing what is good for its people. They keep talking of red lines we do not listen to them. They said Syrian forces should not go to Iraq border we did not care. It is our land. If killing people is what they call democracy, we do not need their democracy,” he said.

Can whole of Syria be liberated from ISIS?

“Only Idlib remains under the control of the ISIS," Abbas explains. “Our Army can within 24 hours take control of all the territory. We are not doing it because we care for our civilians. We would not like to kill 500 civilians to take out 50 members of the ISIS. That is why we are going slow.” 

Abbas says use of force is the only solution. “You cannot talk to terror groups, the mercenaries who have come from outside,” he claims.

But has this long drawn conflict led to a sectarian divide in Syria, since it has a majority Sunni population with an Alawite leadership. “There is no sectarian divide in Syria. 85 percent of the country is Sunni. All the people have together joined hands against Wahabism which is behind most terror attacks in the world. Look at those who attacked Mumbai in 2008. They were also adherents of Wahabism,” Abbas explains. 

He is particularly dismissive of Wahabism. “It is not Islam. It is against all the principles of Islam. Is it Islamic to indoctrinate people to go become a suicide bomber in lieu of 72 hoors in Jannat? Islam is a tolerant religion. All Muslims are wary of visiting Europe for example because of the damage Wahabism has done to the reputation of Muslims,” he said.

“If Wahabism is Islam then I am not a Muslim,” Abbas declared dramatically.

The Syrian envoy says he is happy with the Indian stand on the issue which is against external intervention, takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people and advocates a political solution. Both countries have also deepened their security cooperation.

First published: 18 October 2017, 20:21 IST