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CSTO Not Able To Effectively Combat International Terrorism Without Cooperation With Iran

Sunday, January 8, 2017 - 04:04

One of the main purposes of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – to fight against international terrorism and to prevent it from penetrating the territory of the CSTO member countries – can only be achieved in close cooperation with Iran. This is due primarily to the fact that Iran has accumulated vast experience in countering international terrorism and extremism, as well as the aggressive policy of their sponsors, such as the United States and Saudi Arabia. Only the correct and timely measures have enabled Iran for the past 30 years to remain the only country in the region that was not penetrated by international terrorists. Also, Iran is the only country in the region that, just like the Collective Security Treaty Organization countries, has a clear position in relation to international terrorism and provides effective assistance to the governments of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria in the fight against the al-Qaeda, the ISIS, and other terrorist organizations. Precisely due to the similarity of their positions in relation to terrorism, Iran was the only country in the region (excluding the countries that are at war) to openly and strongly support Russia's anti-terrorist military actions in Syria (carried out at a request of the Government of Syria). Finally, Iran is objectively not interested in the spread of the so-called Islamic terrorism in the Muslim CSTO countries (Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan), the Caucasus and the Volga regions of Russia, as the terrorists' actions are based not only on opposing Islam to other religions, but also on opposing different doctrines of Islam – in particular, Sunnism and Shiism.


Indeed, given the current situation in international relations, when the Western countries and some Middle Eastern countries are actively supporting the terrorists, the CSTO is unable to effectively combat international terrorism without cooperating with Iran. This cooperation is very important for the CSTO, especially due to the fact that Iran has accumulated a unique experience in countering terrorism and extremism. Even under the toughest sanctions pressure, this experience provided reliable protection for the country against international terrorists. Of all the countries of the region, only Iran has been able to prevent terrorists from penetrating its territory. From the beginning, the country fought against international terrorism systematically and comprehensively, physically destroying terrorists and isolating them from the society, announcing strict legal prohibition of those religious trends and doctrines that were used by terrorists as ideologies. With that, Iran attaches special importance to identifying and neutralizing the terrorist financing channels, to demonstrating the unfounded-ness of the criticism on the part of the international human rights organizations, and proving the legality of the stringent legal anti-terrorist measures taken in the country, as well as to operative and truthful informing of the world community about all the events associated with the actions of terrorists.


The cooperation between the CSTO and Iran in the fight against international terrorism is essential, because Iran is the only country in the region that builds its attitude to international terrorism based on a proper understanding of its nature as one of the violent methods of political struggle that is used by the world's geopolitical forces. This understanding of the nature of international terrorism is the basis for the country's activities aimed at assisting the Governments of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, in the territory of which the war against terrorists is waged. This assistance is not provided simply due to the fact that the said countries are home to Iran's co-religionists – Shiites, whom terrorists consider as religious opponents. It is the clear understanding of the nature of terrorism that creates good conditions for the CSTO countries and Iran to quickly harmonize the joint actions in the fight against international terrorism. It eliminates the possibility of a collision of their interests, including geopolitical. This approach allows them to clearly identify the terrorists, to separate them from other organizations. Accordingly, the cooperation between the CSTO and Iran based on this approach can be very effective and efficient, fully meeting the strategic interests of both parties.


The fact that the CSTO member states in their fight against international terrorism will not be able to find a more reliable partner than Iran is proved by Iran's strong and open support of Russia's military actions in Syria. In order to assist the successful completion of the military operation, Iran was the first to suggest the creation of an information center in Baghdad to coordinate the joint actions of Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria, to collect operational information on all the terrorists that are active in the territory of Iraq and Syria. Currently, Iran provides the center with the information about the location of bases, the movement schemes, the plans of combating terrorism, which greatly facilitates the anti-terrorist fighting in Syria and Iraq. According to Secretary of Security Council of the Islamic Republic Ali Shamkhani, Iran, requiring no payment, immediately provided its military airfields on Russia's first request. From these airfield, air strikes against terrorists in Syria were inflicted. Senior Iranian and Russian diplomats and generals regularly hold meetings to discuss operational issues of the interaction between Russia and Iran In late September 2016, there was reached “an agreement between Moscow and Tehran on coordination, in particular in strengthening the arms of the Syrian army.” It was one of the results of the said meetings.


As mentioned above, Iran's categorical rejection of the opposition of different doctrines of Islam, as well as Iran's counteractions to this religion being used by terrorist as an ideology are the main reason that the country is not interested in the spread of international terrorism in the Muslim countries of the CSTO. Therefore, Iran's cooperation with the countries of the Organization is predetermined by this position of principle – the position that has been repeatedly confirmed by Iran's actions in connection with the penetration of terrorists into the territory of the CSTO member states. In particular, Iran provided a big help to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in their expelling of IMU terrorists (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) from their territories in 1999 and 2000. Iran's security agencies regularly provide information to the security services of the CSTO regarding their citizens who have been recruited by terrorists in the Middle East and in Afghanistan, assisting in their capture and deportation back to the home country. There is no doubt in the fact that the agreement on military cooperation reached between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Defense Minister of Iran Hossein Dehghani in Tehran in the spring 2016 focuses on countering terrorism, among other things.


We can see that after Russia began its military actions in Syria, the issues in anti-terrorist activities on which the CSTO needs to build up cooperation with Iran were clearly outlined. These primarily include the coordination of efforts of the CSTO countries and Iran in the fight against terrorist and extremist organizations by developing coordination mechanisms for joint action. In this respect, it is very important to search for persons involved in terrorist and extremist activities, as well as to eliminate the channels used for recruitment and transfer of people to the conflict zones. Currently, according to the most modest estimates, more than 2,000 citizens of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are fighting in Syria on the side of terrorists. It is not known how many citizens of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia are in their ranks. However, perhaps the main and most difficult task is identifying and neutralizing the financing channels and other types of resource support provided to terrorists and extremists. It is no secret that this process involves not only the criminal community and various legally existing transnational organizations, but also whole countries. It would be rational to utilize Iran's experience in development of criteria for the classification of terrorist and extremist organizations and creation of mechanisms for exchange and systematization of information on the persons belonging to or suspected of belonging to terrorist organizations, as well as information about their movements.


In his first interview for the newspaper The Wall Street Journal after his victory in the presidential election, Donald Trump confirmed the fact that without close cooperation with Iran it would be impossible to defeat terrorists operating in Muslim countries, and the whole international terrorism as a reaction force tending to expand its influence in all countries of the world. With that, he stressed that Iran is really fighting against the ISIS and supporting Syria; he expressed confidence in the possibility of such cooperation, since the relations between the USA and Iran are gradually being well-established. Hence, we should expect that during Donald Trump's presidency the United States will cooperate with Iran in their fight against terrorism, since it is the sole country in the region that has a clear position on all the terrorists – not only in Iraq, but also in Syria.


We should not doubt the opportunities for effective cooperation between the CSTO and Iran in the fight against international terrorism, as Iran builds its attitude towards contemporary terrorism as an instrument of geopolitical forces, based on the principle of foreign policy enshrined in its Constitution, which lies in the support of Muslim countries in defending their national interests. After all, most of the CSTO countries are Muslim; besides, Russia – where more than 20 percent of the population are Muslims – acts as an observer country in the Islamic Cooperation Organization.

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