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2015年11月18日 (水)

対「イスラム国」 米露の主導権争いは不毛だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Leadership struggle between U.S., Russia over Syrian situation futile
対「イスラム国」 米露の主導権争いは不毛だ

A futile U.S.-Russian conflict over the Syrian situation can only benefit the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group, which carried out simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris.

It is vital for the international community to help bring to an end both the civil war that has bogged down in Syria and the exodus of refugees from the country, and for it to take concerted action to fight ISIL.

At a meeting of countries concerned with the Syrian situation, the United States, European nations, Russia and Arab countries agreed on a political road map aimed at starting talks between the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and opposition groups and holding democratic elections within 18 months.

They probably reached the accord because it was widely recognized that the delay in the international community responding to the Syrian civil war allowed ISIL to increase its sphere of influence and led to the latest terrorist attacks in Paris.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, held unofficial talks on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Turkey and agreed on the need for a ceasefire and a transition to a new administration. The two leaders hailed the road map as “diplomatic progress” on a political transition in Syria.

Washington’s acceptance of the road map worked out under the leadership of Russia, the Assad regime’s ally, can be considered a bitter concession because the United States had to give in prioritizing international solidarity over changing the Assad regime.

Yet the United States and Russia remain at odds over whether to allow the Assad regime to remain in power. Both countries must continue talks to steadily carry out the transition plan and move closer together.

Obama changes policy

In late October, the Obama administration changed its policy of not deploying ground troops to fight ISIL in Syria and decided to dispatch special forces. The shift in U.S. policy is believed to be taken in response to Russia launching a full-scale intervention with airstrikes in Syria.

The U.S. special forces would be fewer than 50 and train and assist rebels and Kurdish forces. They would neither be deployed on the front lines nor used in combat missions against ISIL.

Obama had earlier planned to have rebel fighters trained outside Syria and have them deployed in ground operations. As few Syrians volunteered for this training program and the U.S. plan virtually collapsed, the United States had no other option but to have its own forces prop up rebel groups.

However, there will be no tangible result if only piecemeal measures are taken every time the situation deteriorates.

The United States has criticized that 80 to 90 percent of Russia’s airstrikes have targeted the moderate Syrian opposition. Washington may be wary of Russia building a solid foothold in the Middle East.

The elimination of ISIL should be the common goal of both the United States and Russia.

The crash of a Russian passenger airliner in late October in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has increasingly been seen as caused by a terrorist bomb. ISIL had much earlier declared that it would retaliate for Russian airstrikes in Syria, and an organization under the wing of ISIL later claimed responsibility for downing the Russian plane.

If the crash is confirmed as a terrorist act taken in retaliation for Russia’s airstrikes, the necessity for the United States and Russia to cooperate in the exchange of information and other areas will grow further.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 17, 2015)


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