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Tom Malinowski: Georgia must not allow IS to say that orthodox Tbilisi attacks Muslims

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, June 20
The United States has been assessing the possibility of the establishment of an ISIS province in north Caucasus named Al-Kavkaz. As Deputy U.S. Secretary for democracy and human rights issues Tom Malinowski has told Voice of America, the governments and citizens should fundamentally realize the possible threats.

“We would like to emphasize that governments should not tarnish human rights when combating terrorist groups…this is a bad policy of counter-terrorism,” Malinowski has told Voice of America. According to him, Georgia’s strategy needs to be the same as in the rest of the world, aimed at defeating terrorism.

“From my point of view, the formula is the same throughout the world - to fight, arrest and judge them. If it is impossible, then they should be defeated at the battleground, like we are trying to do in Syria and Iraq,” he said. “People should have a right of expression as well as the right to arrange peaceful gatherings. If the government restricts people’s rights as they do in Russia, Azerbaijan and the Middle East countries, it will simply deteriorate the situation,” Malinowski says.

Well-known analyst for Eurasian affairs Paul Goble says the Georgian government needs to be very attentive in order to reveal those having ties with terrorist groups and should not be radical towards innocent Muslim population at the same time.

“Most significantly, Georgia needs to show that it is tolerant towards all religions and must not allow Islamic State to say that Orthodox Tbilisi attacks Muslims. Georgia should improve its intelligence mechanisms in order to reveal those being close to terrorist groups. Therefore, the government needs to be very careful,” Goble said.

Minister of Defense Tina Khidasheli said that the IS will have no future as the whole international community stands ready to combat the threat.

The Minister stressed that when the terrorist threat increases, Georgia’s participation to the international missions will become vitally important.

Analysts stress that if such a branch is really established in the North or South Caucasus, it will create risks for Georgia.

They suggest that the Georgian intelligence services should work in a non-stop regime in order to reveal any threats.

The Muslim-Inhabited Pankisi Gorge of Georgia still remains a site from where youngsters travel to Syria and Iraq in order to join the extremist Islamic group.