Russian official: Syria opposition linked to al-Qaeda

9. 7. 2012
Interview: Russian official Ilya Rogachyov warns against Islamization and destabilization of Arab world

Moscow - The expectation of the Western countries that the Arab Spring events would bring liberal democratic forces to power in the region did not materialize. Instead, the region is currently suffering from worsened security conditions and the growing influence of radical Islamists. And the situation is poised to further deteriorate, said Ilya Rogachyov, chief of the Russian Foreign Ministry's new threats department.

The Arab Spring has led to a radicalization in the region, which was something Russia had warned against, said Rogachyov in an interview with Czech online daily

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Rogachyov said that one year after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed, the situation in the country is critical.

"The country is on the bring of disintegration. Regional armed groups fight each other and against the army, human rights violations are still taking place," said Rogachyov.

"The Arab Spring events, and specifically the Libyan events, have sharply worsened the security situation in the region. At the same time, Libyan weapons started to proliferate to some neighboring countries," said Rogachyov, adding that these developments show that the worst fears of a post-conflict escalation of security and terrorist threats in the region were justified.

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Syria opposition camp includes Iraq's al-Qaeda

"The situation in Syria is specific. It reminds of the situation in Libya. We partially agree with our Western partners in its evaluation," said Rogachyov.

"Unfortunately it is true that together with the so-called Free Syrian Army and the countries that support the Syrian opposition, a very diverse camp is emerging. It includes the domestic Syrian opposition as well as Iraq's al-Qaeda, extremist Sunni groups (from Iraq) or Wahhabists."

"I believe that we have to seriously think about this. And adopt the a very responsible approach. Because so far it looks that leading Western democracies, and not only them, agree with al-Qaeda and other extremists."

Radical Islamists gain influence in Arab world

Rogachyov believes that the influence of radical Islamist parties in the Arab world is on the rise, and that the region's moderate religious groups will lose their political power to them.

Rogachyov explained that while the West believes that this process is a short-term spike of Islamist tendencies, Moscow sees this phenomenon as a long-term tendency.

"Religious parties are coming to power, whether it is in Tunis or Egypt. And the Muslim Brotherhood is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union,"said Rogachyov, adding that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is rivaled by even more radical extremists whose political influence is growing.

"In terms of security, the situation will probably deteriorate. Because there are no requirements for improvement of the social situation in the countries in which there have been revolutions. The Arab Spring in itself did not create such requirements and from the point of view of economic development, it did not offer anything new. This means that the prospect of improvement of the social situation in these countries is nowhere to be seen."

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autor: Jiri Just | 9. 7. 2012


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