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Russia wary about American intentions in Syria
Russia wary about American intentions in Syria
This decision, despite the demonstrated enthusiasm and assertiveness
of the U.S. president, is very unlikely to be effective and
could even worsen the crisis, pushing the situation to the point
First of all, the Syrian government sustainably strikes the positions of the rebels, including ISIS, with relative success. Thus it is quite evident that airstrikes are not effective in fighting ISIS. According to the fighters’ revelations, they know where to hide in the case of airstrikes as they have gained experience in the years they have been fighting against Assad’s forces. This is common for both moderate Syrian opposition fighters and ISIS. Despite the will not to put boots on the ground, the U.S. has no other option if they intend to lead the international coalition. Moreover, it’s impossible to create an effective coalition and battlefront if Iran and Syria are not to be included.
No clear strategy
Obama has no clear strategy to fight ISIS and the terrorist group does not consider him a threat. It took a long time for Obama to admit that ISIS is a terrorist organization and a true threat. It took the beheading of American citizens to make Obama publically realize this.
It appeared to be a strong enough argument to start thinking about what should be done to stop the threat. For a rather long time, ISIS fighters were opportune terrorists as they were fighting against Damascus. The policy of dividing the terrorists into good terrorists and bad terrorists seems like a bad joke by the White House.
The decision announced by the U.S. president cannot be taken out context of America’s intense tensions with Russia. Russia was the third country to criticize the U.S. decision to bomb ISIS terrorists on Syrian territory, after the Syrian and Iranian governments. It’s not the best company to keep when opposing Obama’s decision in terms of international prestige and perception, however, it was to be expected.
The criticism came both from Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.
The criticism is based on one key point: without the Syrian
government’s agreement and a UNSC mandate, the U.S. strikes
in Syria would be a gross violation of international law
and should be considered an act of aggression. Moreover, Moscow
didn’t pass over in silence the double standard approach
of Washington, as while helping Iraq to fight the terrorists
on its territory, the U.S. president called for approval for more funding
Heightened U.S. awareness
In general, Russia welcomes heightened U.S. awareness of the crisis — it is better late than never. Minister of Foreign Affairs Serguei Lavrov even criticized the U.S. on September 10 over its supposed double standard approach, saying that «the Americans are bombing them (ISIS) on Iraqi territory, but they do nothing with them in Syria». Russia would even approve the U.S. strikes against ISIS fighters in case of Washington’s cooperation with Damascus on the matter.
But now there are deep concerns that the U.S. will bomb not only ISIS positions in Syria, but also the Syrian government forces. These concerns can be explained by the fact that evidently the strikes against ISIS could play into hands of Damascus and this doesn’t correspond with the U.S. interests. Taking into account that during all these years of the Syrian war the U.S. could have been trying to realize its plans to bomb Syria, they could take advantage of this situation.
If the U.S. bombs the positions of government forces, by mistake or with malicious intent, this would have doubly unpredictable consequences, both at the international and regional levels.
For sure, this will trigger a new crisis with Russia. The crisis
of credibility in bilateral relations will reach the highest point.
Russia will ultimately respond to the possible aggression. But how?
It’s a big question with a difficult to predict answer.
Moreover, possible strikes against Damascus’ forces will blow up the
remains of credibility of international law, international systems
and institutions. After the meeting over Iraq in Paris on Monday,
Russia’s foreign minister stressed that the international community should
build common action «on a solid foundation of the United Nations
Charter and U.N.
On the regional level, the U.S.’s possible bombing of Damascus’ forces could strengthen ISIS. Relations with Iran could become more exacerbated, that could worsen the cooperation with it on other vital issues such as its nuclear program. The Iranian rejection of cooperating with the U.S. against ISIS is already an unpleasant turn, mostly conditioned by already an committed mistake — Iran was not invited to the international conference on Iraq in Paris.
If the U.S. only strikes ISIS positions on Syrian territory and
refrains from bombing Syrian government forces — this would be better
for stability and be more predictable in terms of consequences,
however it would never resolve the ISIS problem. Airstrikes are
Moreover, it should be remembered that ISIS is primarily an idea, an idea making even Europeans and Americans leave their homes and join the group. Ideas cannot be defeated by bombs, actually, bombs make them stronger.
U.S. involvement in the anti- ISIS drive is indispensable, both in Syria and Iraq, especially taking into account its military capabilities. However, it is only positive as part of a sophisticated strategy approved by the international community. It is time the international community elaborate on the strategy to deal with ISIS.
Maria Dubovikova is a
«Говорят эксперты МГИМО», может не совпадать с мнением редакции портала.