BANGI: There will not be any end to the Islamic State (IS) terror threat in Malaysia and other countries unless the conflict in Syria is solved, said an expert on the Middle East.
Dr Nader Hashemi of the University of Denver, however, said there was no reason to be optimistic that the conflict there was ending anytime soon.
“If anything, it is going to continue to bleed and to radicalise the region, and produce more recruits for IS,” he said at a seminar recently, organised by the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (Ikmas) of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
He said prior to the uprising of the Arab Spring in Syria in 2011, the lS and al-Qaeda did not exist in the country.
Dr Nader, who is the author of several books on the Middle East, said the government of Bashar al-Assad responded with brutal repression, causing thousands of people to be killed.
“There were peaceful protesters challenging a repressive regime, and the regime was cracking down hard, while the rest of the international community was standing on the sidelines doing nothing,” he said, adding that this was when the IS took advantage of the situation, which led to the spread of massive sectarianism.
The United Nations has predicted that at least 8.7 million Syrians would be displaced internally this year with another 4.8 million having fled the country since 2011.
Dr Nader said the United States did not get involve in Syria as there was an assumption that the conflict would stay inside the country and not have repercussions for anyone else.
But he said the IS had grown into an international problem with the streets of Paris, Brussels and Orlando among others being affected by attacks.
He added that the situation in Syria had paralysed the international community, adding that in the region, Iran and its allies were cooperating on one side, while Saudi Arabia and its allies, another.
Dr Nader also said that crushing IS militarily was not enough, as they could emerge in other ways as seen by suicide attacks in Baghdad and Istanbul recently.
Malaysia also has not been spared by IS, with police saying that a bombing at the Movida night club in June was the first ever successful IS attack here.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last week said that Malaysians must be vigilant in combating the IS threat, as it was no longer a question of “if” but “when” an attack in the country would take place.
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