By M.A. saki

General Soleimani liberated Syrian towns and villages: Iran expert

January 3, 2021 - 14:6

TEHRAN – An expert on Iran’s foreign policy says as President Beshar al-Assad has said General Qassem Soleimani “liberated towns and villages” in Syria in the fight against ISIS.

Polina Aniftou from Greece tells the Tehran Times that “certainly” the assassination of General Soleimani “was a big relief for the terrorists of ISIS and their regional and trans-Atlantic sponsors.”

She also praises Esmail Ghaani, the general who replaced General Soleimani immediately after his assassination in January 2020, as a “capable” person.

“Sardar Ghaani is also very capable; he is very promising and intelligent soldier of peace,” the analyst notes.

The Greek analyst also says Iran has a long record in fighting terrorist groups and state terrorism.

 “Iran fought against terrorism from the very beginning, against MEK terrorists, against Saddam’s terrorist bodies, and since then have helped all the people in the region and the world that have been trying to resist against state and non-state terror actors.”

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: In 1972, a specialized Committee on Terrorism was set up at the United Nations, and member states made great efforts to provide appropriate definitions of international terrorism, but due to intense political differences, the actual definition of international terrorism and comprehensive conventions in practice was impossible. Security Council Resolution 1373 was the most serious attempt to define terrorism after 9/11, which evolved into UN Security Council Resolution 1535. Despite providing a definition of terrorism, countries approach it differently. What is the reason?

A: Terrorism usually is defined in the broadest sense, as the use of intentional violence for political or religious purposes by state or non-state actors, and we have seen this definition in academia, in literature, in media, and resolutions and laws worldwide. What is missing every time by the laws and the resolutions, you are asking, is to define the cause, the consequences, and the duration of terrorism. Not of the terrorist action but terrorism as a situation. Thus for example we had “terrorism” and “terrorist organizations” in the past as in the case of RAF in Germany and Brigate Rosse in Italy from 70s to 90s. These organizations that had more social demands for social equality, were fighting for the change of pro- fascist and post-war capitalist regimes in Germany and Italy that were sinking people into poverty and by-laws they defined as terrorists. After the members of these “terrorist organizations” were arrested, the treatment by the state and justice systems was totally inhuman and against any democratic principles. Thus we had members of these organizations committing suicides without any justifications. Germany has introduced to Western world the white cells at Stammheim Prison where political prisoners were starving and just one day they were sent to psychiatric clinics from the tortures. All the committees and the regulatory bodies in the UN that tried to define terrorism before the fall of USSR, were actually trying to demonize communism, socialism, social and class movements, anti-imperialism, and anti-capitalism.

The Western justice system was never prudent to adopt the diversification of political opinions, the race equality and we have seen what happened to European colonies in Africa, the white exceptionalism in the USA against non-white and indigenous populations. In my opinion, this anti-social character of the West has to do with the fact that the West does not have historical value system and the beginning of the Western civilization occurred when it met Greek, Persian, and Egyptian cultures, creating an antireflection and reaction because Greek and Persian and Egyptian nations were nations based on origin, culture, religion, territory, same traditions but the Western nations are “made” nations by human force or historical needs that cannot enjoy internal peace, exporting their aggression with wars, racism, and Westoxification.

Thus after the fall of USSR in 1991 that the anti-capitalist movements were not so dangerous as they did not have the support of the USSR and the vision of socialism was traumatized, the Western lobby needed new enemies. The West saw as danger the religion, the indigenous populations, giving legitimacy to states against armed and non-armed groups. PLO until Madrid Conference in 1991 was considered as a terrorist organization, either the entire organization of Hezbollah or just its military wing has been designated as a terrorist organization, Zapatistas were defined as terrorists or narco-terrorists by the Mexican state that in 1997 pro-government forces massacred 45 villagers for their support of the Zapatistas (Acteal massacre). The rights for freedom, work, health equality, and education of the poor and indigenous populations were defined as anti-democratic “sins”.  They were blocked, criminalized, and used the term terrorist for national freedom fighters.

The Security Council Resolution 1373 attempted to define terrorism after 9/11, which evolved into UN Security Council Resolution 1535. It failed to unify the member states. This Security Council Resolution 1373 requests member states to implement a number of measures intended to enhance their legal and institutional ability to counter terrorist activities at home, in their regions, and around the world. The Security Council Resolution 1535 (2004) received a more technical and operational shape on revitalization of the Security Council committee established pursuant to Resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism. Today the most important part is not the fact that countries decide to face terrorism in a different way; today states and businesses are monitored globally. The AML and compliance guidelines given by the European Union are not different from the USA. When the USA applies sanctions, usually all other countries advise their businesses not to have relations with sanctioned individuals, companies, universities and countries. The fight against terrorism in our days occurs through laws, banking systems, economic isolation, and legal enforcement. If Interpol requests a wanted person from a country in Asia most probably the authorities will agree. If the EU believes that there is a terrorist action within France as in the case of Hebdo, then rest of the countries will support.

In the absence of a definition for terrorism there is an open pool at the discretion of each state, lobbies, and organizations to call terrorists those they disagree with or dislike. From the other part for the global powers terrorism needs to stay undefined in order not to eliminate their benefit and illegal actions. For example, the USA justified the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq as a counter fight against terrorism. If there was a strict definition, the USA is now acting as a state terrorist. So if we want to be legally, socially and practically correct, terrorism, anti-terrorism, and state-terrorism need to be also defined. The state terrorism in the cases of Israel, USA, Saudi Arabia, the previous government in Bolivia, which came to power through a coup, are legitimated with illegal and unhuman perspectives and violations of human rights and international laws.

Q: How do you assess the role and position of Iran in the fight against terrorism in the region?

A: Iran has a very specific identification in fighting terrorism both in legal and common practices, but also in social rules. I remember when I was conducting interviews for my PhD, an Iranian clergyman said that the values of the Islamic Revolution are the dignity, freedom, and justice. Iran fought against terrorism from the very begging. It fought against MEK terrorists, against Saddam’s terrorist bodies, and since then had helped all the people in the region and the world that were trying to resist against state and non-state terror actors. Thus Iran supported Hezbollah that was founded to protect Lebanese people after the massacre in Sabra and Shatila, where forces of Israel violated the territory of Lebanon and executed 4,500 people in 2 days. This is state terrorism. Iran supported PLO and Hamas and the rights of Palestinians for freedom. Iran did not interfere in the politics of Palestinians, as Ayatollah Khamenei very correctly said, Palestinians decide and Iran supports; Iran is the only country in the region that declared its foreign policy so transparently. Iran supported Venezuela and Bolivia against the U.S.-supported coups and violation of international law. Iran supported from the very beginning, before even Russia, the legally elected president of Syria against ISIS. Iran supported after an invitation the elected Kurdish government in Northern Iraq against ISIS and Turkish troops. Iran and personally Imam Khomeini supported Nelson Mandela against the apartheid of South Africa. In all above cases Iran faced terrorism under any form of state-terrorism and terrorist organizations. Iran, though facing sanctions, managed to show its solidarity around the globe to any people asked for that. So there is a systematic and ethical ideology behind the fight of Iran against terrorism. In terms of justice and equality, Iran, as expressed by Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution, opposes the way that the indigenous population are treated as subhuman according to their race and ethnicity.

The Islamic Revolution and the ideas of Islamic governance do not only apply to Shia or Muslims but to all humanity for freedom, independence and respect and this is the universalism of the character of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  

Q: How do you assess the role and position of General Qassem Soleimani in the fight against terrorism, especially ISIS, in the region?

A: The night General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated I was at home that a friend, who is a political analyst from Greece, called me and said “Media say that Soleimani is assassinated”. I did not pay attention as I thought it’s something usually comes out of media for propaganda. At 5:00 a.m. another journalist friend from Greece confirmed (the report). Like all, I was devastated! Not only because what had happened was a war crime. But also because Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as personalities had enlightened the fight for peace and freedom in the region. Qassem Soleimani’s speeches and activities teach us respect, patience, just and visionary. The fight of Qassem Soleimani against ISIS has been said by President Assad. (He said) General Soleimani helped the Syrian people, he liberated towns and villages. Our Syrian friends sent us pictures from churches that Soleimani and his soldiers had cleaned for the believers. On the day of the funeral, Russian troops from Syria arrived in Tehran with flowers to his memory. Pakistan’s people visited his grave singing. Photos of Soleimani are still in Gaza, Beirut, Sanaa, Caracas, Paris, (and) London. General Soleimani was not just an Iranian general. He was (also) respected across the region and the world for his achievements and for his personality. Certainly his assassination was a big relief for the terrorists of ISIS and their regional and trans-Atlantic sponsors, or at least this is what they believed. I am more than sure that Sardar Ghaani is also very capable. He is very promising and intelligent soldier of peace and we have a lot of expectations from Ghaani, at the same level as the expectations and the appreciation we have for martyr Soleimani. I believe that the most beautiful thing I have ever heard about Soleimani is from a Syrian journalist that while I was interviewing him, he said, “I am Syrian, a Sunni Muslim. I feel safe because Iran helped us, and even if my country will be free we own that to Iran and we want Iran to support us to learn how to be reconstructed as a country and society with values and respect.”

Q: Given the conflict of interests of different countries, can we see the same action by countries against terrorism? What mechanism can equalize the performance of countries against terrorism?

I strongly believe that as far as there are political and economic interests the definition of terrorism will never be achieved by the UN. The member states are not interested in defining terrorism into a legal form and unify mechanisms to fight against (it). Terrorism is another way to justify expenditures, wars, and acts against countries and organizations as in the case of Hezbollah. The only exit I see is the regional organizations that are smaller than the global organizations and the countries due to borders have common experiences and have an understanding of the situation to achieve a memorandum of collaboration. Also, bilateral agreements may support common mechanisms, create a modus operandi and legal forms, and political collaboration in order to fight terrorism. My concern though is as far as lobbyism is above peace and the states cannot protect their sovereignty against the monopoly of capitalism, the aggression of the declining USA, and the fraud of Western liberalism, then the democratic values and human dignity will be under attack.