By Nehad Ismail.
Only 1 in 20 Russian air strikes in Syria have targeted ISIS fighters according to the UK’s Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. British intelligence services claim that five percent of the strikes had attacked the militant group, with most “killing civilians” and Free Syrian forces fighting against the regime of president Bashar al-Assad.
UK Prime Minister Cameron says Vladimir Putin’s decision to take military action in Syria to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a “terrible mistake”. “It’s going to make the region more unstable,” he told the BBC on the first day of his Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester.
Activists in Syria believe that the Assad’s regime is providing the Russians with a list of targets to be hit. So Assad selects the targets, and Putin’s air force carries out the bombing. This explains why ISIS is being spared.
It is not therefore surprising to see Putin’s airstrikes are not attacking ISIS (Daesh). ISIS has never been a real threat to Assad.
Assad and ISIS have been in cahoots since the summer of 2013. Ample evidence exists that confirms co-operation. The Assad regime committed unspeakable crimes against its own people, colluding with Daesh for over two years. Evidence shows the Assad regime never targeted IS but invariably attacked the Free Syrian Army, the only moderate rebel group in Syria fighting ISIS (Daesh) apart from the Kurdish Peshmerga in the north of Syria. When Daesh seized oil wells the regime was its first customer, providing funding and support.
The relationship between the Assad and Daesh is complex and based on a mutuality of serving each other. It is a kind of a Faustian pact at best, and an outright collusion at worst. So, neither the Assad’s regime nor Moscow are in a hurry to get rid of Daesh.
The dithering Obama administration has handed the initiative to Putin who seized it with relish. He is now calling the shots and is telling the world Assad must stay. Historical precedent is on Putin’s side, he seized Crimea in March 2014 and the West did nothing apart from imposing puny financial sanctions here and there.
The gullible John Kerry, US Secretary of State, and Philip Hammond, UK Foreign Secretary have cautiously welcomed Putin’s intervention in Syria. Hammond told the media he hoped Moscow will use its leverage to force Assad to scale down barrel bomb attacks against Syrian civilians. The exact opposite happened. More and more barrel bombs are being dropped on people because Putin’s action has emboldened Assad to be more brutal. Kerry in the meantime is busy arranging meetings, holding meetings, and speaking about more meetings, and telling the media about his constructive talks in various meetings.
When I asked an American contact about Obama’s paralysis he replied – “He is receiving advice from pro-Iranian advisors and from Tehran-funded lobbyists not to say or do anything that may alienate Iran and jeopardise the nuclear deal”. This explains somewhat Obama self-imposed paralysis.
So the conclusion is this; no matter what Obama says or does, no one seems to take any notice. Republican Senator John McCain, a long-time critic of the current US administration, blames Obama’s inaction and lack of strategy for Syria.
In a recent piece in the New York Times, Thomas L Friedman said this about Obama: “He keeps letting himself get pummelled into doing and saying things that his gut tells him won’t work, so he gets the worst of all worlds: His rhetoric exceeds the policy, and the policy doesn’t work”.
It is clear the US and the EU have capitulated to Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. In 2013 Kerry and Obama were outmanoeuvred by the Russians over Assad’s use of chemical weapons, they are now being duped over the fight against ISIS/Daesh in Syria.
Of course the Russian action will prolong the war and escalates the violence and will force hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring countries and to Europe.
Can the EU, the US and NATO do anything now to prevent more human tragedies?
The answer has been provided by Brooklyn Middleton’s Al-Arabiya article. “For years, the U.S. and Europe’s strategy in Syria failed to comprehensively address both the Assad regime and the humanitarian crisis”.