In an interview with Muslim Press, Richard W. Murphy discussed the operation to liberate Mosul from ISIS militants and the major players involved in this campaign.
Read the full text of the interview:
Muslim Press: What's the significance of the operation to liberate Mosul? What should we expect of this operation?
Richard Murphy: The significance of the operation to liberate Mosul is that it is: a major operation by Iraqi forces in a city from which they fled combat with ISIS two years ago. It is the opportunity to display what competence and self-confidence the Iraqi forces have gained in the meantime through their retraining. Hopefully the result of this operation will be the restoration of Bagdad's control of Mosul and the expulsion of ISIS from the city where their leader first announced the establishment of the Islamic State two years ago.
MP: What role does Iran play in this operation?
Richard Murphy: The extent of Iran's role in the operation to liberate Mosul from ISIS is still unclear. The Iraqi Prime Minister has made clear that he wishes that this operation be predominantly an Iraqi one although he knows that there will be non-Iraqis involved. Iran shares the goal of Baghdad, other Arab capitals, Russia and the West to see an end to ISIS. According to reports from the area, Iranian advisors are working with Iraqi Shia militias in the Mosul campaign. Hopefully, Iranian advisors will counsel those militias that they must be careful not to oppress the Sunni population which they will have participated in liberating.
MP: What's your take on Turkey's policies towards ISIS? Has it changed in recent months?
Richard Murphy: Turkey has hardened its position against ISIS in recent months. It is exerting border controls to keep foreign volunteers from joining ISIS ranks. It has participated in air attacks on ISIS positions.
MP: Could the thwarting of relations between Iran and Turkey change their policies in Syria?
Richard Murphy: Turkey has been actively hostile towards the Assad regime in Syria and Iran has been highly favorable to its continuance. Turkey has suggested it is reevaluating its position towards the Syrian regime although it is unclear what this will mean in practice.
MP: Do you think the fate of the Middle East depends on the next president of the United States? How important is this election for Middle Eastern countries?
Richard Murphy: The fate of the Middle East will depend primarily on Middle Easterners. The United States, whoever will be its next President, will at most play a supporting role participating in the region's economic development and encouraging broader movement towards democratic governments.
Richard William Murphy was the United States ambassador to Mauritania from 1971 to 1974, to Syria from 1974 to 78, to the Philippines from 1978 to 1981, and to Saudi Arabia from 1981 to 1983. He served as the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs from 1983 to 1989.