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Syria: the necessary deal between the US and Russia

Middle East - Africa/Policy di

After Russian bombings in Syria, the violation of Turkish airspace and the support of Assad, relationship between the Washington and Moscow have become even colder. However, a cooperation agreement against Islamic State is possible.

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Ministry of Defense of Russian Federation could accept the Pentagon proposal on coordination in the fight against ISIS in Syria. This is what the Kremlin leaked Wednesday 7th October, speaking of ongoing diplomatic relathioship with the White House after the US-Russia summit at the United Nations on 29th September.

Since last 30th September, when Russia began to bomb Syria, it started a double escalation. From military point of view, with Russian fighters brought to Palmira, in the provinces of Aleppo and Hama, where they helped regular army against Islamist insurgents, but not belonging to Daesh. Russian support of Assad, challenged by the United States and NATO, and the violation of Turkish airspace caused the diplomatic escalation.

Indeed, there were several give and take between the West, which accuses Russia to hit Syrian not fundamentalists rebels and play jihadists game, and the Kremlin, which has branded these accusations as hoaxes.

“We reject the Russian assertion that all armed opponents of the “brutal” Mr Assad were terrorists, ” president of the US Barack Obama boomed out While minister of Defence Michael Fallon stated that only 5% of Russians raid hit the Caliphate: “Our evidence indicates they are dropping unguided munitions in civilian areas, killing civilians, and they are dropping them against the Free Syrian forces fighting Assad. Percentage of victims proved by The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) .

“The only true way to combat international terrorism, in Syria and in the territories of neighboring countries where international terrorism is rampant, is to act preemptively by fighting and killing terrorists which have captured territories,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said. While Minister of Foriegn Affairs Sergey Lavrov explained that “we have the same approach: it’s ISIL, Al-Nusra and other terrorist groups. We believe that the Free Syrian Army should be part of the political process, like some other armed groups on the ground.”

But this tension on the diplomatic level is also involving Turkey. The violation of Turkish airspace, caused by “bad weather” according to Russian reason, opened a diplomatic incident with Turkish President Recep Erdogan, historically enemy of Assad and accused to taking in Syria many foreign fighters enlisted by the Caliphate.

The Kremlin explanations were rejected by Erdogan and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The statement published by Member States of the Atlantic Alliance last 5th October called on Russia “to end air strikes on the Syrian opposition and civilians” and commented on violation of Turkish airspace as “the extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour”.

However, this argument could be mitigated by a possible cooperation agreement between Washington and Moscow. Moreover, not only Russia, but also the West decided to intervene in Syria. The United States (and maybe Italy) are reconquering Iraqi city defeated by Islamic State. France, Australia and Great Britain (pending the ratification of the Parliament) are sending their fighters to Syria.

Russian annoying attitude against the United States and NATO probably concealed one purpose: to involve the Western partners in the war against Islamic State. This goal could be reached in the coming days.
Giacomo Pratali

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Giacomo Pratali
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