A senior US State Department official has rejected reports suggesting that the policies administered by the Obama administration in Iraq led to the creation of dreaded terror group Islamic State.
Jared Caplan, director of the Department of State's London Media Hub, who is in India, said that his country is doing everything it can to defeat ISIS, in coordination with 66 countries
Maintaining that ISIS is a direct threat to the US, he said, “That is absolutely ridiculous. ISIS s a direct threat to our own national security. To suggest that we support ISIS is preposterous.”
Asked to react on allegations in various quarters that US created ISIS, funded and armed it, Caplan, who is also the State Department's Arabic spokesperson, said that the US was not only carrying out air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq but is also stopping flow of foreign fighters, checking radicalisation, turning off flow of finance and working to defeat its ideology.
“We are trying to expose their true nature as a group of thugs and terrorists who have hijacked religion in the name of their own goals,” he said.
On whether ISIS is a bigger threat than Al Qaeda, he said it was not helpful to compare them.
“Terrorism knows no borders. We have seen ISIS metastasized into international franchises,” he said referring to the terror attacks in Libya, France, Belgium and other countries.
"ISIS is a real threat not just to Syrians and Iraqis but to neighbouring countries, to our allies in region, to Europe and ultimately a threat to US and that is why President (Barack) Obama said despite the long term nature of campaign, we are committed to win war however long it takes," he added.
The US official described winning the war against ISIS, the situation in Syria, and threat from its Bashar al-Assad regime as long-term challenges before the US.
Syria situation ‘very complicated’
Terming the situation in Syria as "very complicated" given the number of players and the amount of external factors involved, he said at the end, it is the Syrian people who have to decide their future.
Caplan believes that the seven-day cessation of hostilities agreed by the US and Russia could be the most promising way to end the war, as this could lead to partnering with Russians through Joint Implementation Centre to launch joint operations against ISIS.
He is of the opinion that if the plan succeeds, they can move forward on the political track to solve the Syrian crisis. US wants United Nations to be involved in the negotiations to find a solution.
He reiterated the US stand that Assad has lost legitimacy and agrees with the Syrian opposition that there is no room for him in the country's future.
"One of the most complicating factors is that Bashar al-Assad created a power vacuum in much of the country... ISIS and terrorist organisations have occupied that. Syrian people are caught between a dictator and terrorist organisations," the official spokesperson said.
Stating that US is extending all assistance to moderate opposition, he said Obama was not in favour of sending troops on ground, apparently guided by previous experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Caplan said Obama's foreign policy guided by diplomacy helped in stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon to threaten US allies in Middle East. He claimed that US relationship with the Arab world and at large with Muslim majority countries was better than what it was after 9/11.
He pointed out that after the 9/11, US tried different ways to communicate with Arab world and to tell its story directly. He believes the Arabic language television channel, radio stations and magazine was the important measure US took to fix the perception gap.
Noting that the number of students from Muslim majority countries studying in US far exceeds than what it was before 9/11, he said this indicate that US corrected lot of problems.
"They come to our country, understand our system go back and tell that media portrayals, caricatures and stereotypes are not accurate. That helps sharing the real American story very effectively," he said.
With IANS Inputs