Obama and the French and the others in the Western coalition are merely carrying out cosmetic strikes against the Islamic State. Russia is now acting with Iran and its client regimes in Baghdad and Damascus to do something genuine to fight the Islamic State.
Obama won’t coordinate with Putin because of Assad: “American officials, who have long cast Mr. Assad as the primary source of instability in Syria, assert that the Syrian leader’s brutal crackdown provided an opening for jihadist groups and that the crisis cannot be resolved until a political transition is negotiated that requires him to leave power. But Russian officials see the Syrian government as a bulwark against further gains by groups like Islamic State and Nusra Front and sometimes suggest that the defeat of the Islamic State should come before a negotiated solution for the Syrian conflict.”
The U.S. position assumes that the Islamic State’s power and appeal is based on outrage at the crimes of Assad, and that therefore its support would melt away if Assad were gone. No one who has ever read anything that the Islamic State has published or any of the accounts of why people join it could hold this position, but of course the Obama Administration and the other governments of the West are committed as a matter of policy to ignoring and denying the ideological and religious appeal of the Islamic State. Since they maintain that the Islamic State is not Islamic, they have to find some other reason for its appeal to young Muslims worldwide; that reason is supposedly Assad’s atrocities.
Putin, by contrast, is more realistic. He realizes that the Islamic State has global ambitions and is by no means only devoted to removing Assad — as anyone who has ever paid the slightest bit of attention to them knows. Thus he knows that removing Assad will only strengthen the Islamic State, and that the Islamic State will be the chief force able to take advantage of that removal.
The U.S. position is based on fantasy. The Russian one is based on reality. The Iranian involvement is unfortunate, but now that Obama has concluded his disastrous nuclear deal with the mullahs, it can hardly be said that the U.S. has a better handle on the Iranian situation, either.
“Russia Surprises U.S. With Accord on Battling ISIS,” by Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, September 27, 2015:
UNITED NATIONS — For the second time this month, Russia moved to expand its political and military influence in the Syria conflict and left the United States scrambling, this time by reaching an understanding, announced on Sunday, with Iraq, Syria and Iran to share intelligence about the Islamic State.
Like Russia’s earlier move to bolster the government of President Bashar al-Assad by deploying warplanes and tanks to a base near Latakia, Syria, the intelligence-sharing arrangement was sealed without notice to the United States. American officials knew that a group of Russian military officers were in Baghdad, but they were clearly surprised when the Iraqi military’s Joint Operations Command announced the intelligence sharing accord on Sunday.
It was another sign that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was moving ahead with a sharply different tack from that of the Obama administration in battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, by assembling a rival coalition that includes Iran and the Syrian government.
The effort, which Mr. Putin is expected to underscore in his speech at the United Nations on Monday, not only puts Moscow in a position to give military support to Mr. Assad, its longtime ally in the Middle East, but could also enable the Kremlin to influence the choice of a successor if Mr. Assad were to eventually leave power.
Russia’s moves are raising difficult questions for the Obama administration, which remains deeply conflicted about American military involvement in the Syria conflict. Ensuring that the Russian military and the United States-led coalition, which is carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State, “deconflict” and avoid running into each other is only part of the problem: The Obama administration and the Kremlin do not appear to agree even on the main reason for the conflict.
American officials, who have long cast Mr. Assad as the primary source of instability in Syria, assert that the Syrian leader’s brutal crackdown provided an opening for jihadist groups and that the crisis cannot be resolved until a political transition is negotiated that requires him to leave power. But Russian officials see the Syrian government as a bulwark against further gains by groups like Islamic State and Nusra Front and sometimes suggest that the defeat of the Islamic State should come before a negotiated solution for the Syrian conflict….