Rise of ISIS surpasses other Middle East chaos

Updated: 2014-09-04 12:04

By Pu Zhendong in Beijing(China Daily USA)

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Washington's animosity with Damascus may counteract its efforts of air strikes on the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State in the Middle East, a situation Chinese analysts said calls for global collaboration within the United Nations to combat terrorism.

"China definitely has a stake in this issue. If the United Nations agrees to launch some kind of an intervention, China is willing to assume its share of international responsibility," said Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran and an expert on Middle Eastern studies.

"The rise of ISIS now overrides other turbulence in the Middle East and becomes a common enemy of the world," he added.

The remarks came while the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), led by the self-proclaimed Khalifah Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, sweep across Iraq and Syria causing severe casualties and a humanitarian crisis.

In July, ISIS made revenge threats against China and other countries for seizing "Muslim rights", with China mentioned first on Baghdadi's list. The jihadists urged Muslims in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to swear allegiance to Baghdadi.

Li Haidong, a US studies researcher at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, said: "The ISIS-led unrest in Iraq has jeopardized the security of Chinese energy projects and personnel in the country, and disrupted China's cooperative vision of a Silk Road Economic Belt."

"The stability of the Middle East, an important link on the new Silk Road, is crucial to the success of this economic structure and the cooperation between China and the region," Li said.

Earlier this month in response to US airstrikes against extremists in Iraq, Beijing, in an unusual gesture, said it "takes an open attitude toward any actions that facilitate ensuring security and stability in Iraq on the precondition of respecting Iraq's sovereignty".

"Beijing supports efforts made by Iraq in safeguarding sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity as well as combating terrorism," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

Analysts said the United Nations now provides an appropriate platform for major powers such as the US, Russia and China to join hands to fight ISIS and therefore mend strained ties.

"The Russian-US relationship has gone through grievous setbacks due to the Ukraine crisis, while the Sino-US one is marred by distrust. It would be good thinking that these countries adjust positions and seek to strike against the common enemy of ISIS," Li said.

In mid-August, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2170, which called for the international community to cut down support for the extremist group.

Li Guofu, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said: "The quick and atrocious expansion of ISIS has made itself a common enemy for regional and global political powers such as Iran, the Gulf states, the US, Europe and Russia, which might reunite and translate the momentum into a new order in the Middle East."

However, Li also warned that China needs to evaluate its capabilities before any actions that might entrap itself in the Middle Eastern turmoil and further aggravate tensions.

He said Washington is to blame for the current chaos in the Middle East due to its failure to identify the "real enemy" and its incompetence as a regional mediator.

"The Obama administration has been focused on ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the past four years, and obviously neglected the more threatening ISIS. Now while ISIS has moved into Syrian territory, Washington is confronted with an embarrassing situation to have to deal with a regime it hardly recognizes," he added.

US officials said the Pentagon was preparing military options, including surveillance flights, to pressure the Islamic State in Syria.

When asked if the US had permission to strike inside Syria, the White House said it will not "look for the approval of the Syrian regime, when American lives are at stake".

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, said: "Just because the Syrian regime may be taking on ISIL or speaking publicly about that, and certainly the United States is, that certainly doesn't mean we're on the same side of the coin here."


(China Daily USA 09/04/2014 page3)