[Published 24 September 2015]
America’s ongoing insistence on wanting Syria’s President - Bashar al-Assad - removed from power - continues to hinder American policy on removing the Islamic State as a threat to international peace and security.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reportedly made it patently clear to America on 2 June 2015 that the issue of removing Assad as Syria’s President should not be confused with removal of the Islamic State from the world scene:
“The U.S.‘s “obsession” with [Syria’s President] Assad isn’t helping in the common fight against the threat from Islamic State…
People put the fate of one person whom they hate above the fight against terrorism. Islamic State can go “very far” unless stopped, and air strikes alone “are not going to do the trick.
If people continue to acquiesce with what is going on and continue to acquiesce with those who categorically refuse to start the political process until Bashar Assad disappears, then I’m not very optimistic for the future of this region…”
America should have:
1. accepted Lavrov’s sage adviceAmerica missed this opportunity - enabling the Islamic State to continue its policy of conquest and subjugation contributing to the current refugee crisis now threatening to sink the European Union’s capacity to meet the tide of human misery knocking on its door.
2. acknowledged the ineffectiveness of its coalition led air strikes in preventing the Islamic State rapidly expanding its occupation into large areas of Syrian and Iraqi sovereign territory causing the horrific murder, brutal beheading and ethnic cleansing of its civilian populations
3. joined Russia in preparing an alternative agreed plan of action to defeat the Islamic State
Two earlier unanimous UN Security Council Resolutions — Resolutions 2170 and 2199 — had specified measures short of military action aimed at stopping the Islamic State.
Both however have failed to halt Islamic State’s brutal advance.
Resolution 2170 — passed on 15 August 2014 - clearly enunciated the Security Council’s revulsion at the Islamic State’s territorial grab and genocidal intentions following the self-declaration of the Islamic State in June 2014 - stressing:
“that terrorism can only be defeated by a sustained and comprehensive approach involving the active participation and collaboration of all States, and international and regional organizations to impede, impair, isolate and incapacitate the terrorist threat,”
Only a third Security Council resolution urging military action binding on “all States”can hope to meet this Security Council prescription.
American Secretary for State John Kerry has apparently learnt nothing from Lavrov’s June warning - declaring mantra-like on 19 September:
“We (America and Russia) share the same goals. We share the goal of ridding the region of ISIL. They (Russia) allege that they also share the goal of a political transition that leads to a stable, whole, united secular Syria.”
Kerry continues to tie the fate of the Islamic State to the fate of Assad — which will assuredly fall on deaf Russian ears.
America and Russia need to jointly sponsor the passage of that third Security Council resolution authorizing military action against the Islamic State by a UN-commanded armed force under Article 42 of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.
Negotiating that Resolution’s terms can be considerably expedited by understandings being reached with Russia that once that UN Mandated-force is constituted:
1. America and its coalition partners will only continue air strikes on the Islamic State as part of any such UN forceSyria’s seven million displaced people may then just be able to see the slightest glimmer of light at the end of a long and very dark tunnel.
2. Those American-backed rebel forces seeking Assad’s overthrow and those Russian-backed Assad forces defending Assad will be respectively withdrawn behind agreed red lines until the Islamic State is routed.