Within 24 hours of each other, both Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued warnings against the spreading terrorist threat emanating from the Iraq-Syria cauldron.
Churkin, speaking at a press conference at the headquarters of the UN Security Council in New York, reported that he had told the 14 other members of the Security Council (Russia currently holds the rotating presidency of the council) that a terrorist state, stretching from Aleppo in northern Syria to Baghdad in Iraq “is a very, very serious prospect” that the council needs to address “because really we are lagging behind … in our responses.” He said that one reason Russia is supporting the Syrian government is Moscow’s belief that if President Bashar Assad’s government was to fall apart right now “it’s the terrorists who are going to take over.”[/qutoe] He added that “We are trying to make sure that [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL] is not going to take over Damascus, which could be a real prospect under some circumstances.” One of the proposals for addressing that prospect, that Churkin put forward, is putting a stop to illicit sales of oil from oil wells controlled by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, aka ISIL), which is a major source of funding for their operations.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov echoed Churkin’s warning from Damascus, Saturday, adding that “Russia will not remain passive to the attempts by some groups to spread terrorism in the region.” He reportedly didn’t specify what actions Russia would take, but Iran’s PressTV reported, Saturday, that Russia has already delivered the first of the Sukhoi fighter jets to Iraq that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had requested less than a week ago.
Khamenei’s warning, issued Saturday, was on the danger of sectarian war. He specified that, in reality, it’s not a war of Sunnis versus Shi’ites. “The enemies in the region are investing in civil wars and they are hoping for a Shi’ite-Sunni war in a bid to free themselves from their concerns about the Islamic awakening,” he said. “But what is happening now is not a Shi’ite-Sunni war, it is a war of terrorism with the opponents of terrorism, war of the lovers of the West with the supporters of the independence of the nations,” the Supreme Leader added. “It is the war of humanity with savagery and barbarism,” Ayatollah Khamenei added.