“An agreement between the “big ones” is the only possible solution since it’s a multiple conflict, not only because of the actors on the ground but also for the countries supporting them”

The Middle East is a very rich region of the world that still has weak governments in some of the countries and that mostly shares a culture completely opposite to the Western civilization. Nowadays the whole international community is turning its eyes towards this region and more specifically to Syria, where the Islamic State has its main activity. However, the Syrian conflict does not only involve th
e Islamic State and the local government but also many other actors that at the end involve al_DSC0027most the whole international society.

I had the opportunity to deepen in these issues asking the former ambassador of Spain in Iraq about it. He is called Ignacio Rupérez and was born in Madrid in 1943. He studied law and worked as a journalist before joining the diplomatic career. Once he became a diplomat in 1984, he traveled to Cuba, Ukraine, Egypt, Israel, Honduras and Iraq. Furthermore, he was the Chief Supervisor of the region of North America, Continental Asia, Europe and Canada at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid. He is nowadays based in Madrid sharing his vast knowledge about International Relations in several talks and seminars.

I could ask him about different aspects of today’s most actual issues and also about his personal experience abroad. We spent a nice morning analyzing the main threats and possible solutions that the international community faces in the current world.

The most important international conflict at the moment is located in Syria. In an attempt to seek a solution to this conflict, some states celebrated the Vienna Conference to set an agreement, which has been criticized by some as useless. In that sense, the former Spanish ambassador in Iraq said, “the agreement can favor a ceasefire and later a solution but if the great powers (Saudi Arabia, United State, Russia and Iran) don’t support this it’s impossible to reach an agreement, no matter what the United Nations or the public international opinion say”. However, the events have changed a lot today since last Friday’s Paris attacks and the ambassador’s opinion might have changed.

The war in Syria is a very difficult conflict where many parties want to satisfy their own interests. Therefore, analysts agree that a unified and common answer must be given to defeat the main threat, which is the Islamic State. Mr. Rupérez also believes that “an agreement between the “big ones” is the only possible solution because it’s a multiple conflict not only because of the actors on the ground but also for the countries supporting them”. At the end, this multilateralism worsens the conflict due to the many interests that clash and that find their beginnings in the history.

The Libyan situation has to be carefully taken into account because the stability of the region is still lacking and radical islamists can take advantage of it. The UN supervisor at Libya, Mr. Bernardino Leon, has recently left his post due to a conflict of interest during the peace talks in this country. However, Mr. Rupérez recognized the difficulty of this task regarding the many opposing parties. He focuses the problem on the future perspectives wondering whether Libya, Syria or Iraq will remain as unitary countries and adds, “the creation of Libya and Iraq was done from the union of three ottoman provinces and now this framework is not working because each of them want to take their own way”.

When talking about the nature of this islamist terrorism, the former ambassador in Iraq argues that there is an “emotional, ideological and identity feature behind the attitude of the terrorists” and highlights the anti-system feeling that members of these groups have against the West. For that reason, the way of eradicating this terrorism must be done with “patience and constancy”. A poor life together with the exaltation of the messages, he says, create an explosive mix with dangerous consequences.

Fianlly, when it comes to his stay in Iraq as a Spanish ambassador, Mr. Rupérez only has positive words about the experience. The reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the country in 2005 was fully successful and he recognizes that the Iraqi population had no negative feelings against the Spanish representation there. He admits that he could travel around the whole country without having any security problems.

By: María Gaytán de Ayala Gabarain


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