BAHRAIN (Gulf Daily News): Iraq’s top diplomat expects to defeat Islamic State (IS) by the end of this year and prevent its militants from taking up arms in the region.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Dr Ibrahim Al Jaffari said his country’s military forces were the only ones fighting IS on Iraqi soil, denying reports of the existence of foreign forces.
He was responding to reports, quoting US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, that America will deploy “boots on the ground” in Iraq to help local forces fight the IS.
Dr Al Jaffari was speaking yesterday on the sidelines of the First Ministerial Meeting of the Arab-India Co-operation Forum at the Ritz Carlton Bahrain, Hotel and Spa.
“We hope that 2016 is the year we will see the end of IS attacks in Iraq,” he said.
“No foreign forces are fighting IS in Iraq and we do not have any other forces fighting with the Iraqi forces in Iraq.”
He also denied reports that a group of people, allegedly from the People’s Mobilization Forces (Al Hashd Al Shaabi), was expelled by US soldiers deployed in Ramadi city.
“We can’t deny any country from releasing statements, but Iraq has sovereignty that we don’t allow anybody to abuse,” he added.
“Al Hashd Al Shaabi is a national group that is now part of parliament and the government, and we don’t consider it a terrorist group.
“It has always been against terror; they faced terrorism and they were approved by parliament and they played a role in maintaining security.”
Meanwhile, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj cautioned the Arab world of the “silent sponsors of terror.”
At the official opening of the forum, she stressed the need to “de-link” religion from terror.
“We must de-link religion from terror — the only distinction is between those who believe in humanity and those who do not,” said Swaraj.
“Those who believe that silent sponsorship of such terrorist groups can bring rewards must realize that they have their own agenda; they are adept at using the benefactor more effectively than the sponsor has used them.”
She warned that the dangers of radicalization should not be ignored and cited India’s unity in diversity as an example to fight this threat.
“We have seen repeatedly that terrorism does not respect national borders,” she added.
“It seeks to subvert societies through its pernicious doctrine of a clash of civilizations.
“The only antidote to this violent philosophy is the path of peace, tolerance and harmony.”
Swaraj added that the forum, which was attended by foreign ministers of 22 Arab states, was a “turning point” in India’s relations with the Arab world.
Those who attended the one-day forum included Arab League Secretary General Dr Nabil Al Arabi and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir.