Russia’s Chief Mufti : Outcome of War in Syria to Shape World in 21st Century

LONDON, December 15. /TASS/. The outcome of the civil war in Syria will be a determining factor in the organization of the whole international system in the 21st century, Chairman of the Russian Council of Muftis Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin said on Tuesday opening the 11th Muslim International Forum titled “Religion, Identity and Politics in a World of Changing Values” in the British capital.

“The outcome of the Syrian war – the final and bloodiest episode of the Arab war – will be of decisive influence in devising new approaches to and principles of organizing the state system and world order in the 21st century,” Gainutdin said.

He compared the current situation to the beginning of the past century when “World War I sucked into its vortex many empires of the world.”

“Today, the battlefield has moved to the Middle East. World powers are involved in the ongoing political and military processes. The current impact of the Middle East drama is felt on the entire Eurasian continent in the form of the monstrous acts of terrorism, the migrant crisis and other complex socio-political phenomena,” the chairman of the Russian Council of Muftis said.

The participants in the two-day forum, which brings together the leaders of the Muslim communities and muftis from nearly 20 countries, will discuss a wide range of challenges currently facing Muslims across the globe – from youth radicalization and terrorist threat to the lack of imams in mosques and difficulties with preserving the cultural identity. The forum is held outside Russia for the first time.

“We approved agreements that have been reached between the militaries of the Russian Federation and the United States, and agreements that apply to the US-led coalition, which works against ISIL,” Lavrov added. “And in practical terms we agreed on some further steps that will help make our parallel work more coordinated and more effective.”

The meeting between Syria’s opposition groups in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia seeks to establish a agreement by which the opposition can enter negotiations with the Syrian government.

“It does not represent all opposition groups, but this, again, was one step in the process, which is coordinated by the United Nations,” Lavrov said.

Russia favors a collective, all-inclusive format of an international anti-terrorist coalition in Syria, which has been formed at Vienna talks and approved by the UN Security Council, Lavrov added.

“We certainly agree that everybody must contribute to the fight against terrorism and to the political process [in Syria],” Lavrov said at a joint press conference with Kerry after talks.

“We prefer doing it in a collective format, which has been formed in Vienna, and which includes all key players that influence one way or another on warring sides in Syria; the format that was approved by the UN Security Council in a recent resolution,” Lavrov said, adding that this format covers the preparation of a list of terrorist groups in Syria.

Lavrov also pointed out that the UN Secretariat was unable to provide Russia with any proof that its Syrian operations have had a negative impact on the humanitarian situation there.

He referred to a recent UN report alleging the Russian operation was killing civilians in Syria.

“The statements contained no references to factual information. We requested the UN Secretariat to provide such facts but they failed to do so and we asked the Secretariat to be more careful about their statements in the future and give assessments based on precise data with references to sources,” Lavrov said.

“Since then we have heard no more accusations against us,” the Russian foreign minister added.