U.S. Begins Military Talks With Russia on Syria
LONDON — As the first Russian combat aircraft arrived in Syria, the Obama administration reached out to Moscow on Friday to try to coordinate actions in the war zone and avoid an accidental escalation of one of the world’s most volatile conflicts.
The diplomatic initiative amounted to a pivot for the Obama administration, which just two weeks ago delivered a stern warning to the Kremlin that its military buildup in Syria risked an escalation of the civil war there or even an inadvertent confrontation with the United States. Last week, President Obama condemned Russia’s move as a “strategy that’s doomed to failure.”
But the White House seemed to acknowledge that the Kremlin had effectively changed the calculus in Syria in a way that would not be soon reversed despite vigorous American objections. The decision to start talks also reflected a hope that Russia might yet be drawn into a more constructive role in resolving the four-year-old civil war.
At Mr. Obama’s instruction, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter on Friday opened a dialogue on Syria with his Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu, aimed at making sure that American and Russian forces avoid running into each other by mistake. The Russians have sent tanks, other equipment, marines and now combat aircraft to their new military hub near Latakia in western Syria. The Americans have flown hundreds of air missions in Syria striking the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
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Leader of US war effort against Islamic State stepping down
John R. Allen, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, will leave the job in November, according to Bloomberg, which cited four anonymous Obama administration officials when reporting on the yet-public information.
Allen is reportedly frustrated with a lack of resources to counter the jihadist group, according to US officials. Allen had unsuccessfully lobbied administration officials for increased tactical air control teams to more efficiently target IS on the ground in Iraq, Bloomberg reported. Meanwhile, administration officials have portrayed his decision as one made out of concern for his wife’s poor health.
After originally committing to six months, Allen stayed in the position for an additional six months at the request of US Secretary of State John Kerry. In the near term, his deputy, Ambassador Brett McGurk, is expected to assume his duties.
Allen has defended the Obama administration’s IS strategy, including on one occasion earlier this month when he told ABC News that airstrikes have been successful in some areas of Iraq and Syria, where IS controls large swaths of territory.
“Where we were a year ago today, I wasn’t sure how it was going to unfold,” said Allen, who took the envoy post in September 2014. “It was not clear to me even that Iraq would survive this. In the intervening months, we’ve seen remarkable progress in many respects.”
Hold on. John Allen steps down as ISIS war czar. David Petraeus gets royal treatment before the Senate today. You don’t think… ???
Equating Assad & ISIS West helps to prolong conflict
Prolonging the conflict in Syria and the suffering of the Syrian people is a direct result of the mendacity and perfidy that informs the West’s stance towards the region. Indeed the lack of any moral clarity, leadership, and competence on the part of Western governments has been nothing short of criminal, with scant evidence of it changing anytime soon. Only in an upside down world could any equivalence be drawn between ISIS in Syria and the Assad government. Yet this is exactly the equivalence that the West continues to make, thus hampering efforts to destroy a movement that is intent on turning the clock back in Syria to the seventh century, embracing inhuman levels of butchery and barbarity in the process.
ISIS is the Khmer Rouge of our time, holding to a similar objective of turning an entire nation into a cultural, human, and physical desert. It revels in its cruelty and bestiality, enslaves and rapes women on a grand scale, and has been allowed to grow to the point where it now constitutes a direct threat to centuries of human progress. Thus we are talking about an organization that has no program that can be negotiated with, nothing to offer except carnage and chaos, making its complete and total destruction a non-negotiable condition of saving millions of people from a horrific fate.
In contradistinction to ISIS the Assad government is secular, believes in modernity, and upholds the rights of minorities, both Muslim and non-Muslim. More crucially, regardless of the huge campaign of demonization that has been unleashed against it in the West, it retains the support of its people, who understand more than any Western diplomat, politician, or ideologue the nature of the struggle they have been engulfed in these past four and half years.