Takfiri groups’ violence aimed at distorting Islamic teachings: US Scholar

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A professor at Indiana University said the violent actions of Takfiri terror groups such as Daesh and al-Qaeda are aimed at distorting the teachings of Islam and achieving certain political goals.

“The main crisis in the Middle East at present is caused by militant organizations distorting the teachings of Islam for extreme political and social goals. Extremism, especially violent extremism, is fracturing the umma (Muslim community), causing some intolerant Sunnis to fight other Sunnis and Shias, destabilizing countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Libya…,” Jamsheed k Choksy, Chairman of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies and Professor of Iranian Studies in the School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University, told the Tasnim News Agency.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: The International Crisis Group (ICG) released a report earlier about violent extremism in the Middle East. The report studied how al-Qaeda and Daesh Takfiri groups have been able to wreak havoc on the region. What is your take on the region’s developments?

A: The main crisis in the Middle East at present is caused by militant organizations distorting the teachings of Islam for extreme political and social goals. Extremism, especially violent extremism, is fracturing the umma, causing some intolerant Sunnis to fight other Sunnis and Shias, destabilizing countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Libya, and causing terrorist attacks in neighboring countries. Terrorist groups such as the (so-called) Islamic State or Daesh, Al-Qaeda, and Al-Qaeda affiliates such as Jabhat al-Nusra are the main culprits, they are terrorizing other Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and therefore they must be stopped.

Q: Do you believe that the US and European countries can help resolve the crisis in the Middle East?

A: The USA and EU can provide materiel, logistical, tactical, and combat advice and guidance. Western nations also can help organize UN assistance and peace conferences. But, ultimately, only the nations of the Middle East and the citizens of those countries, especially the Muslims there, can solve the current crisis. Shias and Sunnis need to come together, work for common good, set aside internal and national differences, and quash enemies like Daesh and Al-Qaeda who intend to disrupt the stable countries of the Middle East and distort Islam.

Q: Syria’s temporary cessation of hostilities took effect last month. Nearly an hour before the cessation of hostilities went into effect, the United Nations Security Council unanimously demanded that all parties to the war in Syria comply with the terms of the US-Russian deal. Do you believe that the ceasefire will take hold and put an end to the crisis in the Arab country?

A: The ceasefire provides an opportunity for government and rebel forces opposed to Daesh and Nusra to regroup and re-equip, reach agreement, and develop plans to bring about peace and reconciliation.

Q: Saudi Arabia started its aggression against Yemen last March to supposedly bring former president and Riyadh’s ally, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, back to power. At least 8,400 people, among them 2,236 children, have so far been killed and 16,000 others injured, since then. Saudi airstrikes have also taken a heavy toll on the already impoverished country’s infrastructure, destroying many reservoirs, hospitals, schools, and factories. Do you think that the Yemeni crisis can be settled via a political approach?

A: Houthi representatives are reported to be in Saudi Arabia for peace negotiations. It would be best for Yemen, for Iran-Saudi relations, and for the Middle East if a peaceful non-military solution can be reached in Yemen under which power-sharing between the various groups in Yemen occurs. Another major proxy war in the Middle East should be avoided.

By Tasnim News Agency