BERIL – The anti-ISIL coalition

The anti-ISIL coalitionEverything about the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a little bit weird. We know that this is a radical Islamist organization whose purpose is to change the borders of the Middle East and to create an Islamist state in the Sunni provinces of Syria and Iraq.

Thatand#39s why one expects ISIL to consider the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the government in Baghdad as its main foes. But is this really the case?It appears that for ISIL, the Kurds in both Syria and Iraq are the main foe at the moment.

Thatand#39s why it constantly attacks Kurdish regions and occupies their territories. Given the situation, one expects the Kurds to build an alliance with the regionsand#39 Shia players, and especially with Iran.

This seems to be happening. As a logical consequence, one would expect Saudi Arabia, Iranand#39s rival in the region, to support the opposite camp, ie, pro-ISIL Sunni clans in Iraq and Syria Once again, is this really the case?As far as we know, Saudi Arabia is one of the 35 countries that have officially joined the anti-ISIL coalition.

Iran, however, is not officially part of that coalition, even though everyone is aware that Iranian troops and officers are directly involved on the ground to fight against ISIL militants and give a hand to the Kurdish fighters and the Iraqi army. In brief, Saudi Arabia and Iran are practically on the same teamThe Western members of the anti-ISIL coalition are supporting the Kurds, and especially Iraqi Kurds, against ISIL and these give considerable material assistance to them Maybe the Western powers hope to counterbalance Iranand#39s growing influence in the region through the Kurds.

So on the one hand there are the Westerners and the Kurds, and on the other Iran and its local Shia allies. Nevertheless, even before ISILand#39s emergence, the very same equation between the West and Iran was already in place.

So what has ISIL really changed?As you may notice, we havenand#39t mentioned Russiaand#39s role yet. We all know, however, that any assessment of the situation in the Middle East is incomplete without evoking Russian involvement.

The latter is not always directly involved however, it has a long tradition of using local allies to act on its behalf. This time, Russia is not only using actors on the ground but is also exploiting rivalries within the andquotWesternandquot world because these rivalries are one of the reasons behind the extremely volatile situation in the region.

Weand#39ve been hearing press reports for months about French or British nationals who use Turkey to travel to Syria and then join radical Islamist organizations fighting in the Syrian civil war Turkey is constantly being accused of not doing enough to stop these European jihadists to join ISIL. Turkey keeps repeating that those people come to Turkey as tourists, so there isnand#39t much that can be done.

Recently, a group of three British citizens came to Turkey and weand#39ve learned that they crossed the Turkish-Syrian border with the help of an agent working for the intelligence agency of a Western country. By the way, another countryand#39s name has also been evoked many times as having helped this agent — a Middle Eastern country that is part of the anti-ISIL coalition.

Turkey has been accused of turning a blind eye to these border crossings now itand#39s Turkeyand#39s turn to expose anti-ISIL countriesand#39 ambiguous games. Everyone sees that what is going on around ISIL cannot be explained only through the lenses of the Sunni-Shia fight or the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, or between the US and Russia The ISIL problem is also about Europe.

Winning the fight against this organization requires an attentive assessment of the existing rivalries in Europe. These rivalries are probably the reason why there is so much pressure on Turkey diverging camps within Europe simply want Turkey to pick a side.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman