Europe is facing uncontrolled flows of refugees, terrorist threat and public discontent. People begin to ask questions. Russia is taking independent actions in Syria. Perhaps, it could offer better solutions to these problems than Washington.
If leading European Union members gave priority to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) instead of ousting Assad, they would be closer to Russia than to the US. Anyway, unlike before, there is no unity on the issue in their ranks. The voices calling for throwing support behind Russia are getting louder. For instance, Marine Le Pen, the head of French National Front party, has endorsed Russia. She said Russia is doing what the West had to do a few years ago.
On October 8, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter criticized the Russia’s military operation in Syria. «We've seen increasingly unprofessional behavior from Russian forces. They violated Turkish airspace... They shot cruise missiles from the Caspian sea without warning,» Carter said after NATO defense talks in Brussels. The Secretary noted that the missiles came within a few miles of hitting a US drone over Syrian airspace.
First, no way can one agree with the Secretary’s remarks about Russian pilots’ unprofessional behavior. Obviously, Russian forces don’t have to report to the United States, their air strikes in Syria are conducted upon the request of the country’s legitimate government. Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad offered his own assessment of Russia’s actions. He said Russia has already achieved more success striking terrorist groups than the US-led bombing campaign has for over a year.
Syria's ambassador to Russia, Riad Haddad, said «According to our data, about 40 percent (was destroyed). In addition, a lot of terrorists have been killed. Now, they are retreating toward the Turkish border.» According to him, the Russian strikes are very accurate and effective. Russian warplanes closely coordinate their actions with the Syrian army units fighting on the ground. Syrian military provide Russian aircraft with targeting data. Russian pilots really fight; they don’t pretend to be engaged in combat activities like the crews of US Air Force have to do.
On October 8, a US fighter two strikes in Al-Houl aiming at a gas station. By and large, US aircrafts were doing this kind of thing during the entire week before the incident. As Russian Defense Minister Sergey reported to the President, during the same period of time Russian aviation delivered 112 strikes against the Islamic State. The US-led coalition has never achieved such success. That’swhat Secretary Ashton Carter does not mention. At the same time, from the start of the operation on August 8, the US spends an average of over $9 million a day to fight the IS.
According to Pentagon estimates, the Islamic State death toll is 6 thousand, while 20 thousand recruiters joined the group’s ranks during the same period. As of mid-2015, over 30 terrorist groups in the world had pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State or announced their support for it. These are the results of the US fight against the IS.
No matter that, Ashton Carter dares to talk about Russia pursuing a “flawed strategy” and warns that the United States will not cooperate with Moscow. Russia does not need it, it has never asked for cooperation. Especially in view that the United States lacks strategy in the fight against the Islamic State.
It’s worth noting that the US has recently intensified its activities in Iraq. In Syria the US aviation attacks the enemy one-two times a day. For comparison, in Iraq it delivers dozens of strikes daily. At that, it has had absolutely no influence on the Islamic State activities in that country. Simply Washington has understood that Baghdad is very close to requesting military assistance from Moscow.
On October 7, Hakim al-Zamili, the chairman of Iraqi parliament’s defense committee said, «We are seeking to see Russia having a bigger role in Iraq... Yes, definitely a bigger role than the Americans». Before that, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi said he saw no problem with Russia striking the Islamic State in Iraq if its activities are coordinated with the Iraqi government. Pro-US politicians in Baghdad cannot do anything about it. They act as if President Obama were their relative, the Prime Minister noted. Valentina Matviyenko, the Chairman of the Russian Federation Council, said the upper chamber of Russian parliament will consider the expediency of the Russian Aerospace Forces participation in the operation against the Islamic State in case a corresponding request in made. In this case, the White House will have to either cooperate with Moscow, or finally withdraw from Iraq.
The US Defense Secretary can bluff to impress his NATO counterparts. But NATO cannot turn a blind eye on the fact that an anti-terrorist coalition is emerging in the Middle East that includes Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. In the West they call this alliance anti-US. They may call it as they wish, but Washington continues to be unfriendly towards all the participants of the anti-jihadist group which includes Moscow.
Iranian supreme spiritual leader ayatollah Khamenei banned direct talks with the United States. At the same time, Iran fully complies with its obligations towards Russia in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. The air route Russia-Iran-Iraq, Russian missile strikes from the Caspian Sea across the territories of these countries, the exchange of operational intelligence information – all these things has already taken place.
As the events unfold, the moment may come soon when the United States will have no role to play in the fight against the Islamic State.