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The Dynamics Of U.S., Russia And France on a “PROBABLE” Pact to Fight ISIS In Syria
Anu Sharma
2015-11-26
Region : America,
Issue : Security, Terrorism,
Three major countries of the world have joined hands to bomb the territories controlled by ISIS in Syria which claimed to have masterminded the 13/11 terror attacks in Paris killing more than 120 people. It is for the first time, after the Second World War that US, Russia and France has joined hands in retaliation to the recent terror attacks on the French capital. French retaliation to bomb Syria came after US President Barack Obama held talks with the allied partners and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a summit held at the Turkish Mediterranean Resort city. The last two weeks have clearly demonstrated to the world ‘the unhindered reach’ of ISIS, ISIL or Daesh wherein they have bombed Russia, in Lebanon and latest in France.
For America and most of its allies the attacks in Paris have been a kind of the forced reassessment of the threat. The American counter terrorism experts have started considering the Daesh as an organisation that has international ambitions beyond its self-proclaimed caliphate. Though for sure it’s much worse a situation for the rest of the world where separate players have varied interests in the war against Daesh. Both US and Russia have seemed to be fighting ISIS but for different reasons altogether. Where on one hand, US is fighting Daesh for the reasons involving “fencing in” of the regional problem that the Islamic state has become, on the other hand Russia is fighting the Islamic state for the reason of supporting the government of President Assad. Iran is also fighting the Islamic state but at this point it can hardly be called an ally of US.
Many US sources have confirmed the coordinated strikes on the territories related to ISIS where Russians are bombing in the day time and the US and France have turns to bomb the suspected areas during the night. Prominent US leaders have given an indication that the US will be deploying and positioning more soldiers in the region to push back the Islamic state by carrying out the punishing air strikes. France and Russia have agreed to cooperate both bilaterally and multi laterally against Syria and the cooperation is aimed at destroying the ISIS territories in Syria.
Though American President has clearly asserted that US is open to coordinating with Russia in a campaign against Daesh on the condition of targeting and destroying the militant group only. It should be kept in mind that the Russian air forces have so far delivered 4,000+ air strikes which is quite more than compared to the US led coalition against Daesh.
In a quite tactical move, Russia has started communicating with the insurgents which are referred to as the ‘reasonable opposition’, to avoid bombing their positions, while at the time Russians receive information about Daesh. For Russian Prime Minister Putin, ending the diplomatic isolation could be an important first step in persuading the west to lift off sanctions on the wobbly Russian economy following the Ukraine crisis. At the same time the U.S. is still sceptical about the posture of the Russian leaders in favour of the Assad government in Syria. U.S. is likely to extend the cooperation only in case the Russians decide to shift their interest and focus on action against the terrorist organisations. At the same time, U.S. needs to look for the “catch” to keep Assad in power in relation to the cooperative behaviour with Russian counterparts.
It seems that Britain and Russia have moved an inch forward in tacking ISIS despite their disagreements on various issues related to the region but still many gaps remain. Though the words of reconciliation between Britain and Russia were lukewarm with the claim from the leadership that the relations between the two nations cannot be termed as cordial clearly hinting that the Paris terror attacks have, to a certain extent revived the relations between the two nations.
This essential disagreement in aims between US and Russia act as a roadblock to their cooperation against Daesh despite the fact that both the countries are fighting against Daesh in Syria. Policymakers on the both the sides feel that it is nearly impossible to witness any feasible change in the underlying policy and the level of cooperation where support for the present regime in Syria is concerned. Till now United States and Russia have not been sharing intelligence information or cooperating with the military cooperation.
The heightened state of crisis in France and many other parts of the world are witnessed the problems of terrorism and it was eminent that the two superpowers—one armed with the powerful warfare techniques and other with the apex technologies can provide support by joining hands in curbing terrorism. Though France and Russia have joined hands in coordinating their response to the Sinai and the Paris attacks. At the same time it is necessary for the policymakers in U.S. to start thinking about the joining hands in order to have a better chance at fighting ISIS/Daesh, rather than doing it separately. Though President Obama’s assurance to share the intelligence information with the allies i.e., Russia and France—which can be considered an apt step in the right direction but still much more bold steps are needed to turn the tide against Daesh and stop its “relentless march into the Europe.” At the same time, both U.S. and Russia need to synchronize their air strikes in Syria in order to hit the maximum number of targets in the most organized and timely manner.
There are possible chances that if the Obama-Putin talks over Assad Presidency in Syria doesn’t materialise it can further deteriorate the situation. But the policy makers around the world are keeping their fingers crossed for the for the two countries to be moving forward in many other areas clearly capitalising on the opportunity presented to them in the form of the Paris terror attacks. Russia, as compared to many other European nations, has not had any working group communication with the U.S., which can change after the Paris attacks. But the policymakers and strategists in the U.S. are still cynical of the successful partnership between Russia and U.S. However, U.S. and its coalitions have claimed that the forces have been hitting at the tanker trucks, but the claims can still not come up to the number of strikes as compared to the Russian hits. U.S. has claimed that it has struck some 80% of the strikes in the Capital city of Raqqa. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that the Russians will too unwilling to start another diplomatic war in Syria after the Ukraine quagmire. Though, as mentioned earlier, Russians have been out rightly supporting the Assad government in Syria, but at the same time it is necessary for Russia to gauge the pros and cons of its involvement in Syria. Syria could end up as a seriously dangerous commitment.
The public reaction and the mind set Russia is rising high with the sentiment of “strike the terrorists in Syria before you have to fight in Russia.” At the same time, Russian involvement in Syria is being sold as “safe” to the Russian public with little involvement of the ground troops in Syria and the continuing fighting the Daesh at an arm’s length with no specific danger to the Russians, per say. But a lot needs to be scrutinized before the three world powers finally join hands in fighting ISIS.
It remains to be seen whether the latest developments result in the formation of an international alliance against the Daesh and other terrorist organizations in the region. The tactical goals are related in fighting ISIS, ISIL or Daesh but it appears that the strategic differences remain.
References:
--Nakmura, David & Karen De Young. “France launches fierce assault on ISIS targets in Syria” dated November15, 2015 [online web] accessed on November 22, 2015. URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-vows-to-help-france-hunt-down-perpetrators-of-paris-terror-attacks/2015/11/15/a4628faa-8b74-11e5-9a07-453018f9a0ec_story.html
--Rosen, James. “After Paris attacks, will U.S. and Russia find a common cause in Syria” dated November 17, 2015 [online web] accessed on November 23, 2015. URL: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article45276750.html
--Paris terror attacks: France launches fresh airstrikes on ISIS in Syria—As it happened” accessed on November 23, 2015 [online web]. URL: http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/nov/16/paris-attacks-france-terrorism-isis-obama-hollande-war
--Chorley, Matt. “Putin comes in form the cold: Desperate world leaders cosy up to the Russian President to get him to join the fight against ISIS” dated November 16, 2015 [online web] accessed on November 24, 2015. URL: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3320174/Russia-offered-compromises-future-Syrian-dictator-Assad-return-joining-fight-against-ISIS.html
--Luhn, Alec. “Russia proposes talks with US military over ISIS situation in Syria” dated September 16, 2015 [online web] accessed on November 24, 2015. URL: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/16/russia-proposes-meeting-us-syria-isis
--Beauchamp, Zach. “A Russia expert explains how Putin will likely respond to his downed plane” dated November 24, 2015 [online web] accessed on November26, 2015. URL: http://www.vox.com/2015/11/24/9794816/turkey-russia-plane-galeotti
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FORE INDIA

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