Alusi After Paris: Biden was Right

by Heather Robinson

Following last week’s ISIS attacks on Paris that left 130 dead and 352 injured, I spoke by phone with Iraqi Parliamentarian Mithal al Alusi, who suggested that Vice President Joe Biden last month revealed something important about what is really going on in the Mideast.

Alusi, a secular moderate who has championed normal relations between Iraq and Israel and has been elected three times to Parliament despite campaigns of propaganda and intimidation against him and alleged corruption by Islamists, told me that he believes Biden’s October remarks – which the Vice President was later, Alusi speculates, forced to walk back – about the role of U.S. allies including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey, in strengthening ISIS, reflected an accurate assessment. (Biden told students at The Kennedy School of Government that Turkey, the Saudis and the UAE were so determined to take down Assad that they poured money into groups who would fight Assad, including – possibly unintentionally – what eventually turned out to be ISIS). Alusi added that Iran has been instrumental in strengthening ISIS. (Some U.S. officials have long speculated that considerable direct, unregulated funding of Islamist extremist groups comes from sympathetic individuals in the Gulf States).

“Here in Iraq we know it, we know it is coming from Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar,” said Alusi. “Biden is not a nobody and he said it clearly. He was saying, ‘Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iran have supported ISIS with training, weapons and hundreds of millions” of dollars.

Alusi suggested that the United States go to the United Nations and condemn these countries under Article 7, asserting that any nation who materially supports terrorist organizations or networks will be held accountable by the UN Security Council.

Russia would undoubtedly veto such a measure, Alusi said – which would expose them as “blocking a real effort to punish the terrorists.”

Alusi, whose two grown sons were murdered by terrorists because of their father’s dedication to advancing cooperative relations between Iraq and Israel, and promoting counter terrorism cooperation specifically, believes the only way to defeat ISIS is to form a “serious democratic coalition” of nations opposing terrorism via all fronts – military and also economic, diplomatic, and educational – and to hold to account any nation that in any way supports terrorism.

“A strong White House” should lead such a collation, he believes; he added that U.S. foreign policy under President Obama has created a “vacuum” that has enabled ISIS to flourish.

“A strong White House advancing democratic values is the real answer to ISIS,” he said.

“We [Iraqis] cannot fight terrorists alone … Whether the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or ISIS, there is no difference between terrorists.”

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