French Tragedy Makes West Review its Vision of Russia’s Role in Fight against Terror

French Tragedy Makes West Review its Vision of Russia’s Role in Fight against Terror

The Paris tragedy is, in some way, the result of the policy towards refugees, but also the consequence of EU foreign policy in general terms. The attack will surely have political consequences. It came five days before France's aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, was due to set sail for the Persian Gulf for operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. France has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria since late September. 

The US anti-IS effort in Syria and Iraq has been half-hearted. It did not prevent the Islamic State (IS) from making new advances. The bombing campaigns in Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Iraq were much more intensive. 

Only the increased flows of refugees made Europeans suspect something was going wrong. The calls to draw lessons from terrible consequences of destroying the statehood of Libya, Syria and Iraq were no more effective than banging one’s head against the wall. 

Until now France has refused to join efforts with Russia and continued to insist the Assad’s departure was a prerequisite for addressing the issue. 

The goal the terrorists pursue is to prevent the US-led coalition and the Russia-Iran-Syria coalition operating in Syria from joining forces. The creation of one «big coalition» is a deadly threat for IS. 

Before the Paris tragedy, the US administration had viewed the Islamic State as a regional problem. It had been reluctant to acknowledge that the Islamic State threat extends beyond the Middle East and could easily result in an attack in the heart of Europe or the United States. 

Just the day before the Paris attacks, Mr. Obama told ABC News that «we have contained them» in Iraq and Syria. 

Now there are signs to tell that President Obama is reviewing the policy and the contours of the anti-Islamic State effort. 

At G20 summit in Antalya (Dec. 15-16) the presidents of the United States and Russia agreed on a United Nations role to end the bloodshed in Syria, as the Paris attacks jolted G20 leaders into seeking a united front against Islamic State jihadists.

In a major shift of his stance on Syria, Mr. Obama acknowledged the importance of Russia’s military effort in Syria focused on defeating the IS.

This is the first positive response on the part of the US President since Russia started its military campaign in Syria. Some say it signifies the deviation from the policy of non – acceptance of Russia’s involvement in the Syrian crisis. 

The Kremlin said «divergences» remained on strategy but the tone was described as «constructive» by a US official.

It was the two presidents' first meeting since Russia launched an air campaign in Syria in September. Obama and Putin agreed on the need for United Nations talks, a ceasefire and a transitional government in Syria, seeking a way out of the war. The agreement echoed a plan for Syria already forged by diplomats at talks in Vienna the previous day, but it still appeared to mark a perceptible thaw in the icy relations between the US and Russia divided over the conflict in Ukraine. The US President offered his «deep condolences» to his Russian counterpart over the crash of Russian passenger airliner in Egypt. In the course of their informal summit in Antalya, the leaders expressed joint interest in convening United Nations-sponsored peace talks toward finding a settlement to the Syrian conflict and forging a ceasefire, an unnamed White House official told journalists.

European Council President Donald Tusk said Russia also urged closer cooperation between Washington and Moscow. «It should be our common aim to coordinate our actions against Daesh and for sure the cooperation between the United States and Russia is a crucial one», he said.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Supreme NATO Commander in Europe James Stavridis, also spoke along the same lines. 

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«We realize all too well that only the unified effort of the entire international community can help tackle the threat of terrorism and assist millions of people left homeless [by conflicts],» President Putin said at the BRICS meeting.

In an interview on November 13 ahead of the G20, Putin, expressed his frustration that the United States had repeatedly rebuffed Russia’s overtures to coordinate more closely when it came to carrying out air strikes in Syria.

Russia has suffered a string of attacks on its own civilians by Islamist or independence-minded extremists from the Caucasus. It beefed up security across the country in response to the Paris attacks.

On October 31, a Russian passenger airliner crashed over the Sinai Peninsula. The West has said it was likely brought down by a bomb. So far, Russia has urged caution, saying it wants to wait for the results of official investigation. 

Threats against Russia have also appeared on social media recently, prompting special measures taken by security services.

Many Russians came to the French embassy in Moscow on November 14 to express condolences and solidarity. Piles of flowers had built up on the pavement in front of the embassy building. 

On November 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin released a statement to express condolences to French President François Hollande while also underscoring the need for a united fight against terrorism. «This tragedy is additional proof of the barbaric nature of terrorism that is posing a challenge to human civilization», the statement said. «It is obvious that to counter this evil effectively the entire international community needs to truly join efforts».

With terrorist activities on the rise, the situation is complex enough, with varied players with separate interests involved in the war.

The Paris attack underscored the need for Russia and the West to put aside their differences and join efforts to take on Islamic State militants in Syria. The both are in the same boat. Russia has pushed for it in vain for months. Looks like at last the tragedy has made the West shift its policy in the direction of joining together to repel the common threat. 

Foto: RT

Tags: France  ISIS   Russia  US