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JUNE 2021

Relations: US & Russia – Dec. 11 Update

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The latest events in the fight against terrorism have been carried out amid praise and disapproval of the military operations taking place in war-torn Syria.

Relations: US & Russia – Dec. 11 Update

In regards to this issue, on December 5th, the Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov declared that the struggle against extremism must be total, adding that it’s wrong to divide the opposition, either it is moderate or immoderate, also in the case of terrorists it is improper to classify them as bad and very bad, like officials of the Pentagon did.  Such an important operation can’t be carried out acting with double standards as the US-led coalition has been doing for more than a year since the beginning of their operation in Syria in 2014 where it’s clear that strategic targets and movements of the Islamic State have been overlooked deliberately.

However, the bombings against IS objectives have continued over the Syrian territory. But apparently the US has become aware of the poorly significant impact of their offensive against the extremists in over a year; so it is that the US President Barack Obama has called on the US Congress to authorize the use of military force in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization. Also, Obama confirmed that Special Forces deployed both in Iraq and Syria will continue their “training and advising” tasks with Syrian rebels and Iraqi militants involved in the fight against the jihadists. These allegations praising the work of the coalition unilaterally-led by them were made during a speech to the nation on Sunday, December 7th.

Perhaps, the fact that the US is assuming the leadership of a process that includes many participants depicts the real interests of fighting a war in which political settlement is pursued and at the same time the replacement of a legitimate government is masqueraded, as stated by the head of the International Affairs Committee at the Russian Federation Council Upper House of parliament Konstantin Kosachev on Monday 7th, in response to Obama’s address to the Nation.

So, if the US-led coalition is so committed with the solution of Syrian conflict and the cooperation with Syrian and Iraqi forces fighting IS, how would they explain the supposed bombing of a national army camp in Deiz ez-Zor province in the east of the country where three men were killed and thirteen others were injured on December 6th?  As said by the US Defense Department spokesman for counter-terrorist operation in Iraq and Syria, Colonel Steve Warren, In fact there were American airstrikes in the mentioned province, approximately 55 kilometers south east of Ayyash, no vehicles or Syrian army targets were attacked, as informed by the US official. However, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the UN Security Council to take measures on the incident to avoid similar actions in the future.

A lack of a clear strategy on counter-terrorism is evident in the coalition led by the Americans, not only because members like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are confirmedly allied with ISIL terrorists, but also because of the intention of holding a briefing in New York on December 18th in regards to the solution of Syrian conflict when there are not even options of who would be the representatives of the opposition to join the dialogues, that’s why the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, inferred on Tuesday that in the absence of progress on finding militant representatives, it would be “premature” to announce a date for talks.

It’s important to walk firmly towards a real and long-lasting solution of the conflict in Syria sticking to a consensus during the decision-making process. For this reason, all the participants of the Vienna format without exception should be present at the Group’s meetings and mainly, the adopted decisions should be implemented.

In the diplomatic sphere, in the frame of the 70th UN General Assembly session on December 8th, 129 member-states voted for Russia’s resolution, originally co-authored with Brazil and China, on no-first placement of weapons in outer space. The sole country that remains opposed to Russian initiative is the US in a clear attempt to block efforts of the international community for preventing an arms race in outer space.

Also, in regards to the Ukrainian conflict, the US Vice-President Joseph Biden, in an official visit to Petro Poroshenko on December 8th, mentioned that the position Obama’s administration remain the same, namely they and the rest of the International community won’t recognize Crimea as a part of Russia after March 2014 referendum where about the 97% of the Crimean population voted for reunification with Russia. According to Alexey Pushkov, head of the Russian State Duma Committee for Foreign Affairs, this meeting could also represent US’ aim to reach a rapprochement between Ukraine and NATO.

Back to counter-terrorism actions in the Middle East, the US urged other nations to deploy Special Forces in the ground (namely in Iraq and Syria) to combat Daesh, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said on Monday. However no names of the countries likely to be involved in the fight against the Islamic State were disclosed, since discussions are still being held. This arrangement could be reached despite Iraqi Prime Minister Haidi Al Abadi’s allegations that his country needs no foreign troops on the ground to cope with IS influence in the region.

Americans claim to be more effective than Russians in their fight against the IS, claiming these last ones are attacking other objectives in Syria, nevertheless, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says more needs to be done as the United States has been unable to contain Daesh (ISIL) terrorists in Iraq and Syria. This, as claiming that Russia should get on the right side as considering the country has been attacking opposition objectives instead of IS targets.

Finally, the US and Russia seem to have reached an agreement on the draft to be presented to the UN Security Council regarding the implementation of the Resolution 2199, which“forbids illegal oil trade with terrorist groups, [and] objects of cultural value.” The new document (which should be ready before December 18th) is a follow-up to Russian-sponsored Resolution 2199, which was adopted by the UN on February 12 to put a stop to illicit oil deals with terrorist groups, using the UN Security Council’s sanctions toolkit, as informed by Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin on December 9th.

In conclusion, it’s evident that bilateral relations of the US and Russia need to be strengthened not in an aim to see which nation has more power worldwide or which one is more influential in certain ambits but considering real and positive consensus that could lead world biggest crises to long-lasting solutions and preventable further similar impasses.

Lisbeth Mechter


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