Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov [pictured] has called on America to end its attempt to remove Syria’s President Assad from power in return for Russia’s co-operation to militarily confront Islamic State.
Lavrov reportedly told Bloomberg on 2 June 2015:
“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 is part of the Friends of Syria core group known as the London Eleven that has been assisting rebel forces in Syria attempting to overthrow Assad.
Assad – backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah – has rebuffed such attempts during four years of horrendous conflict that has so far seen over 220,000 Syrians die, four million citizens made refugees and another 7.6 million internally displaced. A report published by the UN in March 2015 estimated the total economic loss since the start of the conflict was $202 billion and that four in every five Syrians were now living in poverty – 30 per cent of them in abject poverty. Syria's education, health and social welfare systems are also in a state of collapse.
America apparently intends to ignore Lavrov’s sage advice and continue to pursue its Syrian policy to oust Assad. Marie Harf – a US State Department spokeswoman – told reporters in Washington that:
“we’re certainly not going to coordinate with a brutal dictator who’s massacred so many of his own citizens.”That’s just an absurd proposition. That’s certainly not going to happen.”
Islamic State reportedly controls up to 80 per cent of oil fields in Syria and has destroyed and also sold looted antiquities in Hatra, Nimrod and Mosul to acquire a major source of its funding – sometimes for seven figure sums.
"If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding.”Only a UN sanctioned military force can hope to achieve this objective.
Obama and Putin need to urgently do a deal that sees:
1. A UN led process on the political future of Syria being undertaken without first removing Assad
2. A UN Security Council Chapter VII Resolution passed under Article 42 of the UN Charter authorising military action against Islamic State.Senseless head-butting needs to give way to sensible brain-storming.