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Why is US fighting not against Islamic State but latter’s main opponent?

September 15, 2015, 17:43 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© AP Photo/Hadi Mizban

MOSCOW, September 15. /TASS/. While positioning itself as the leader of the international coalition waging a war against the Islamic State, the United States appears to be fighting not so much against IS militants as the Bashar Assad government, which it is determined to topple. In the meantime, it is Assad’s Syria that remains the sole real force capable of confronting the IS in earnest, polled Russian experts said. The Americans have not only dismissed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal for creating a wide international coalition incorporating Syria’s government troops to fight against IS militants, but been putting pressures on Russia in a bid to terminate its humanitarian and military-technical assistance to Damascus. Analysts believe that the far reaching political aim is to throw Syria off balance and create a permanent hotbed of tensions there.

Russia has evidence that the locations of IS terrorists’ positions are well-known to the United States, but the Americans avoid issuing orders to attack them, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a televised interview last Sunday. In fact, he accused the United States of merely pretending it is really fighting with the Islamic State. "Our US partners either created the coalition without giving proper thought to how to go about that business, or configured it to pursue certain aims very different from the originally declared ones," he said. "Some of our partners affiliated with the coalition are saying that when they do receive information where specifically certain IS forces are deployed at the moment, the commander of the (US-led) coalition refuses to give consent to dealing a strike."

Lavrov believes that the western coalition should coordinate its actions with the Syrian army and abandon the biased policy of replacing the regime in Damascus. "In the first place assistance is to be extended to those who are at war with bandits on the ground, in other words, the Iraqi army, the Iraqi Kurds, the Syrian army and the Kurdish militias in Syria," he said.

"It is nakedly clear that without the Syrian authorities’ and military’s involvement in the struggle against the Islamic state there will be no chance of driving the terrorists out of that country and the whole region," Russian President Vladimir Putin told the CSTO summit in Dushanbe on Monday.

"The strikes the coalition has been dealing against IS forces have proved very ineffective," leading research fellow Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky, of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), has told TASS. "The recent row in the US intelligence community confirms this. Some reports have had to be rigged and edited to create an impression the US has achieved something."

Nadein-Rayevsky believes that in fighting with the Islamic State the emphasis should be made on combat-ready units on the ground.

"No air raids have ever been able to yield unequivocal victory. It is troops on the ground that win wars. And Assad is the only one who has an effective ground force at his disposal," he said.

"The Kurdish Peshmerga (the military forces of the autonomous region of Kurdistan), Syria’s Kurds and Assad’s army are the forces that should be cooperated with in the clash with the terrorists," he said. "There is no chance of beating the IS without them and this is precisely what Putin’s idea of a wide coalition stems from."

"At first sight the United States’ official stance looks paranoid," assistant professor Andrey Fenenko, of the Moscow State University’s world politics department, has told TASS. "In other words: we wish to fight against the IS but at the same time to oust Assad, who is the Islamic State’s main opponent. One has the impression they do not realize that should Assad step down, the Islamic State will be in Damascus the next day."

Fenenko has several explanations for this.

"Reason one (the most probable). The Americans’ plan is to throw Syria off balance, to create a permanent hotbed of war there, with a view to Turkey and possibly Israel being involved in it with time. In this way the Americans will achieve a double aim. Turkey will be punished, for the Americans believe it has gone too independent and it might be a good idea to plant some major problem on its doorstep to make Ankara easier to control. On the other, this will bury the European Union’s hopes for ever laying a gas pipeline from the Middle East countries. That’s a plot against the European Union’s economic potential."

Explanation two, Fenenko says, may look like this: "The Americans are interested not just in chaos in Syria’s territory, but in creating a strong quasi state — Islamic State — in Syria’s territory in order to re-carve the Middle East’s political map altogether."

"If one assumes that the United States wants to see Syria fall apart and a big war flare up, then all of its actions fit in perfectly with this logic. This explains why the Americans do not like the idea somebody else may stop the Islamic State and why they threaten Russia for supporting Assad," Fenenko said.

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