Former MI6 intelligence head Richard Barrett has claimed that air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) militants currently being conducted by Russia and France will not eliminate its forces. Instead, he said, that thinking that military might could remove the operations will force them to "go underground".
Barrett added that there would be "much more work and a much longer term, much more generational-type struggle" to defeat IS militants. "There's actually no point in destroying it", he told Al Jazeera English's Mehdi Hasan in a televised interview.
Instead, Barrett called for a political solution to the problem IS presents, following a series of terrorist atrocities committed against foreign targets in its name, including the massacre at the Radisson Blu hotel in the Mali capital Bamako yesterday (20 November) that left up to 27 dead and the attacks in Paris earlier this month (13 November), that included a death toll of 130 people.
Speaking to Al Jazeera English, Barrett, who also served as head of the UN's Monitoring Team on al-Qaeda and the Taliban between 2004-2013, insisted that the whole point of terrorism to polarise people: a strategy that cannot be solved by weapons of war.
"The whole point of terrorism, and particularly the form of terrorism we are seeing in Syria, is to force people off the fence – you're either with those people or you're with us – and that polarisation of society is a very important element if Islamic State strategy," he said.
Forces from the US and France, along with Russian forces, which are said to be closer aligned to Syria's President Assad, have been bombing IS held targets in the Middle East country.
Barrett said that although he understood the French government increasing its bombing campaign in Syria following the Paris attacks, that inevitably the strategy would make the country "more of a target" for IS terrorists.