In his latest RT interview Dr. Trifkovic considers the state of play following the announcement by Russia’s FSB security agency that the plane crash over Sinai was a terrorist attack.
RT: Srdja Trifkovic, foreign affairs editor at Chronicles magazine, is in Belgrade . . . What are you thoughts on the new information about the plane explosion?
ST: The first thought was how right Putin was to emphasize [at the G20 summit] the need for joint action, and how misguided are those unnamed ‘partners’ that he mentioned, who did not want to join forces because obviously they regard Russia’s terrorist problem as somehow less important than their own.
From now on the Russian president has a free hand in deciding how to deal with this problem, regardless of whether the U.S. and its own allies are serious about the anti-ISIS fight or not. And finally, after all that has come to pass since last Friday night, the old mantra of ‘Assad must go!’ will no longer be heard. We need to prioritize. Obviously there will be no chance of a political solution in Syria unless the terrorist threat is removed first. Not even then is it certain that there will be one, but the old theory that you need to fight Bashar al-Assad on the one side and ISIS on the other at the same time, in parallel—which was the favorite line in Washington—I think has been finally swept aside.
RT: Islamic State has claimed responsibility for both attacks, for what happened on October 31 over Sinai and also on Friday night in Paris. Previously a lot of experts thought that the group did not have the reach to carry out terrorist attacks on such a large scale. Now they seem to have been completely at fault . . .
ST: ISIS does not only control large territory and has the attributes of a de facto state in about one half of Syria and a solid chunk of northwestern Iraq; it also has sympathizers all over the Islamic world, and inside the Islamic diaspora in Europe. It stands to reason that at some point it will start using those assets, especially when it wants to retaliate for actions such as the Russian bombing campaign which started on September 30; the French had started even earlier, although not very seriously but rather half-heartedly.
It remains to be seen to what extent this threat will be magnified in Europe as a consequence of the migrant wave. We understand that at least one of the attackers in Paris came from Turkey and across Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary into Western Europe. God knows how many sleepers are being smuggled by the Islamic State among the hundreds of thousands of those people who are on the move as we speak.
RT: Egyptian authorities are holding two employees at Sharm el-Sheik airport suspected of helping plant the bomb on the Russian plane. If that is found to be true, what does that say not just about the security in that region but also about the reach of the Islamic State?
ST: When General [Abdel Fattah el] Sisi became Egypt’s President and the Muslim Brotherhood was suppressed, there were many unhappy Egyptians who sympathized with the Islamic regime, and they can be found at all levels of society. It is to be feared that Egyptian security procedures and the vetting of their personnel leaves a lot to be desired. From now on it would be highly advisable for air companies to use their own security personnel in addition to the one at the airports to be found locally. But that’s only a detail.
The broader picture is that all over the Islamic world we have potential sympathizers for ISIS, and it is only a matter of time before the next incident of this kind will happen . . . With these people it is impossible to negotiate, because they have a manichean, black-and-white vision of the world. It is a cataclysmic vision, in which compromise is literally impossible. They see the world as divided into “the world of faith” and “the world of war.” It is somewhat similar to the Bolshevik mindset in the early days of the Soviet Union: it is “us” and “them.”
With Russia being involved it is extremely important to realize that by simply abdicating your responsibility and trying to use non-violent means will be interpreted as a sign of weakness—and then the attacks will only escalate. The only way to get them is to get at them physically, with hard, not soft power.
RT: I know it’s hard to speculate, but what happens if the international community comes together with a common plan to beat Islamic State . . . Can you give us a scenario as to what the next few months would look like?
ST: I do not believe that the United States will join forces with Russia in a wholehearted and sincere effort to beat ISIS. Only [on November 16] the Americans started hitting ISIS convoys of petrol tankers that had been there for months. I think there will be some kind of continuation of the double game in Washington, especially since its closest allies in the region—Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar—do not want ISIS destroyed. They’ve been playing their own little games. The Turks are hitting the Kurds, rather than ISIS. The Gulf monarchies see ISIS as a wedge in the Shia crescent that goes from Iran, across Iraq and Syria, to Hezbollah in Lebanon. There are many parties in this game who have their secret agendas. The United States will be hard pressed to go on playing a double game ad infinitum. In reality Russia will have to deal with this problem assuming that it is (with Iran) the only party seriously committed to the destruction of ISIS.