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‘Without international joint action ISIS would have cells worldwide’

Published time: July 04, 2014 11:46
Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. (Reuters)

ISIS is obviously attempting to penetrate Northern Lebanon and Tripoli, and eventually have cells operating in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other states, until somebody stops them, Middle East analyst and counter-terrorism expert Walid Phares told RT.

RT:Do you think the Americans really didn't see this jihadists uprising coming?

Walid Phares: What is certain is that the way we exited Iraq is not the best way, and not the best strategic way. We had defeated Al-Qaeda in the center and in the south of the country; the Kurds were autonomous in the north. The problem is that our allies and civil society have been abandoned when we left Iraq. And also we abandoned large parts of Iraq in the hands of sectarian Shia versus Sunni militants and that opened a platform for Daeesh, for the ISIS, for the jihadists that are now in control to come back. I agree there were tremendous mistakes; the biggest one was the way we exited Iraq.

RT: ISIS claims to have set up an Islamic state on the territory it holds in Syria and Iraq. They also plan to expand their influence. Who's there to stop them?

WP: They have a point, they did not see anybody to stop them inside Iraq at first, and then of course now in Syria, they are obviously attempting to penetrate Northern Lebanon and Tripoli, and eventually having their cells operating in Jordan, in Saudi Arabia until somebody stops them. But of course the reality is that without an international coalition that would stop them on the ground, and as important, probably their cells are going to be active everywhere around the world where they have supporters, and that would be everywhere including Europe, but also America, China, Russia, India. They have at this point established the nucleus of what they called a caliphate in the same way the Taliban did in the past, but with much more money, many more supporters and many jihadists.

Shi'ite volunteers secure the area from predominantly Sunni militants from the Islamic State, previously called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in the desert region between Kerbala and Najaf, south of Baghdad, July 3, 2014. (Reuters/Alaa Al-Marjani)

RT: Some officials in Baghdad are now calling for Iranian military intervention in Iraq. That's on top of the help Iran has already provided. Could we see this bombing happen and how do you expect the US to react?

WP: The Administration has been saying not that many things, but on the ground nothing is really happening. We saw that, for example, in Egypt, in Syria a few months ago, and now in Iraq. And the Iranians are very careful; they don’t want to have their soldiers openly fighting against jihadists because this may trigger a lot of insurgency inside Iran, as well as in many other spots. They certainly will help the Iraqi government, they will be doing it not in a very open way but if ISIS and their allies thrust into the Shia areas then definitely the Iranians will move in with their units. What the US will do, it will certainly ask the Iranians to do that, but can Washington to do something about that? I doubt.

RT: Syria and Iraq are up in flames now. Where else could we possibly see such strong jihadist uprisings in the near future?

WP: Logically speaking, what ISIS is saying is that the immediate next Sunni-majority country is what will be on their list, and I’m thinking obviously after Syria - they are going to get as much territory inside Syria – there will be Jordan, and Jordan already has massed troops and Special Forces on their borders with Iraq. Saudi Arabia just over the last 24-48 hours has been sending tens of thousands of soldiers to their borders in the north. And of course we need to think of Kuwait. These are moderate Sunni countries surrounding Iraq and Syria. I do not think Turkey will be a target, but the Arab countries could be the case.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.