In an exclusive interview with the Indian Review of Global Affairs (IRGA), Dr. Waiel Awwad said that the Iraq crisis is nothing new and is part of the ‘Caliphate project’. India-based Syrian, Dr. Awwad has been an outstanding journalist covering wars in South Asia and traveling extensively in most of the South and South-East Asian countries.
IRGA: The world has been taken by surprise by the sudden upsurge of terrorist activity in Iraq. What will you say about that?
Dr. Awwad: The event in Iraq was not a sudden development as it may appear. It was a consequence of a policy established by the CIA and the National Intelligence Council. An unclassified report titled ‘Mapping the Global future’ comprising 123 pages was published in 2004 which clearly showed how global radical moments fuelled by religion can be a threat to Western values and norms. Therefore, the occupation of Iraq in 2003 was a part of the ‘Caliphate project’.
When the US invaded Iraq, it dissolved the Iraqi army, the security apparatus and the Baath party turning Iraq into a lawless state that allowed the nourishment and growth of radical groups and militia hostile to the new Iraqi government. They were armed and trained by the US and the West with funding from regional allies namely, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
When the US moved out of Iraq, the so called Arab spring started and the groups strengthened its hold on Syria and Iraq. This was done with the support of the US and the West as they allowed more than a quarter of a million mercenaries to cross from Turkey into Syria, and then Iraq. This is what led to the current situation.
IRGA: What do you think makes ISIS different from other jihadi militant groups?
Dr. Awwad: ISIS is an offshoot terrorist organization of Al Qaeda. Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the Jordanian was appointed as its Amir. They declared loyalty to Bin Laden`s successor Ayman Al Zawahiri but later were denounced by Al Qaeda because of their extreme ideologies and the atrocities that were carried out by them.
Abu Baker Al Bagdadi succeeded Zarqavi when the latter was killed. He found common ideology with Wahhabi to serve the vested interest of those countries that worked on the disintegration of the Arab World while spreading sedition and sectarian war.
IRGA: Close to 100 Indian workers have been caught in Iraq’s trouble spots. What can India specifically do to help them?
Dr. Awwad: India is doing its best to ensure the safe return of its citizens. This is a delicate matter and we understand from our source that New Delhi is approaching all channels to achieve that. It is a matter of time before the Indian citizens are released. The faster it happens, the better it will be since other terrorist groups fighting alongside ISIS from South Asia will avail the opportunity to harm them and blackmail India.
IRGA: What do you think is the American policy toward the region in terms of providing support to Nouri al-Maliki’s forces while condemning Assad’s?
Dr. Awwad: The double standard of the US policy toward the Arab world is quite well known. The main interests of US are ‘oil’ and ‘the security of Israel’. The occupation of Iraq ensured both, so is the destabilization of Syria. The US policy toward Syria aims at a regime change and they support militant groups to topple the Syrian government. Al Qaeda was promoted first in Syria and then in Libya, yet now as they try to be a peace broker in Iraq, I find it quite amusing.
US have a permanent interest yet no permanent friend or ally. Maliki was their choice as was Saddam Hussein. The danger of this policy will be a real threat to peace and stability. It may lead to a cold war era if not a third world war. Besides destroying the Syrian army, the Iraqi and Egyptian army will ensure that the dominance of Israel in the region is as per the ‘Oded Yinon’ plan - the strategy for Israel in the 80s.
By attacking Syria, Iraq and Iran, it can take on the resistance forces in Lebanon led by the Hezbollah party while the annihilation of Palestine will continue by Israel.
The US policy is to divide and conquer as long as it is Israel eccentric, unfortunately hurting American people and interests in the region along the way.
IRGA: You have spoken about American interests lying in the end of the Syrian regime. Would you elaborate?
Dr. Awwad: Yes as mentioned above, Syria was on the hit list by US which was also stated by former US general Wesley Clark in 2007. He had specified that Syria was among the seven countries that US would intervene and occupy with the help of Turkey, Israel, Jordan and by using the anti-Syrian opposition groups in Lebanon.
IRGA: India has adhered to the UN charter of non-interference in regards to Syria. How do you assess India’s stand?
Dr. Awwad: India`s stand in Syria is merely a reflection of India’s long stand toward the policy of non-interference and adherence to UN charter. This is why India enjoys global appreciation and respect. A political solution is the only way out because ultimately there is no winner in a war. More political space to accommodate all strata of the society, strengthening democratic institutions and holding elections will deliver peace and stability. Syria appreciates India’s stand in particular and the BRICS in general.
As an emerging power we expect a more proactive policy by India toward West Asia. Their national interests lie in a stable region. The region is passing through a harsh labour stage, and the birth of a stable and peaceful region is still a far dream. The outcome will have its impact on India and the region as a whole. A multi polar world will help shape global peace and stability and India should continue to work in this direction.