Gevorg Mirzayan
On Wednesday, Sept. 24, U.S. President Barack Obama gave a forceful speech at the UN calling for action against Islamic extremists. Russia voted in favor of U.S.-backed UN Security Council Resolution 2170, which condemns the action of extremist groups and takes steps to restrict the flow of money and fighters to them. Russian experts say that Russia’s support of the resolution should not be taken as an indication that Moscow has altered its position on U.S. action in the Middle East.
ПРЕМИУМ
26 september 2014 | 23:00

U.S, Russia find common ground on ISIS while agreeing to disagree on Syria

The text was originally published in Russia Beyond the Headlines

Forming an international coalition to combat the threat posed by ISIS continues to be complicated by disagreements between Russia and the U.S. On Wednesday, Sept. 24, U.S. President Barack Obama gave a forceful speech at the UN calling for action against Islamic extremists, but at the same time criticizing Russia for its actions in Ukraine. Nevertheless, later the same day, Russia voted in favor of U.S.-backed UN Security Council Resolution 2170, which condemns the action of extremist groups and takes steps to restrict the flow of money and fighters to them.

Russian experts say that Russia’s support of the resolution should not be taken as an indication that Moscow has altered its position on U.S. action in the Middle East.

Rather, according to Leonid Isaev, an Arabic Studies scholar and research fellow at the Higher School of Economics, given the successes of ISIS, Russia no longer had much room to maneuver.

“Now the Americans are bombing territory controlled by a terrorist organization, and any criticism of that operation will give rise to questions as to why Russia supports terrorism and the idea of an Islamic State,” Isaev said.

Russian experts took pains to note that the resolution must be considered on its own merits.

Andrei Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, said:

“By upholding Resolution 2170, Russia has signaled that it is willing to cooperate in the fight against jihadists. But that support should not be regarded as an indulgence in undertaking any steps that run counter to international legal norms.”

Andrei Baklitsky, political scientist, director for information projects at the PIR Center for Political Research, agreed.

“It is not Resolution 2170 that provokes Russian criticism, but U.S. actions in Syria. The text of the resolution is completely balanced and is a continuation of similar UN documents on the fight against terrorism,” Baklitsky said.

According to Tatiana Parkhalina, director of the Center for European Security Studies, Russia’s vote for the resolution was a recognition of the seriousness of the threat posed by ISIS, while the debate preceding the vote gave Moscow an opportunity again state its position on U.S. action in the Middle East.

“The Islamic State is a direct threat to the national security of both Europe and Russia. Moscow’s support for the resolution to combat foreign terrorists is the right move for Russian diplomacy,” Parkahlina said. “[Russian Foreign Minister] Sergei Lavrov’s criticism following the vote was substantiated by the fact that it was important for Moscow to make its position on the U.S.’ continued bombing in Iraq in Syria known. It was important for the Americans to hear our point of view.”

According to Baklitsky, Russia will continue to encourage the U.S. to cooperate with the Syrian government.

“The U.S. must ask President Bashar Assad’s permission to bomb the Islamists in Syria,” Baklitsky said. “Since the Americans do not consider the current Syrian government to be legitimate, they are striking and going over Assad’s head. This is de facto a violation of international law. This is of fundamental importance to Russia. We are once again talking about Washington’s violation of the principle of state sovereignty, even if the targets of the strikes are terrorists.”

Russians are counting on U.S. domestic concerns to limit the scope of the operation. Midterm congressional elections will take place Nov. 4, and, according to Sergei Kostyaev, associate professor at the Faculty of Applied Political Science at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Democrats are wary of signing on to another war in the Middle East given U.S. President Barack Obama’s low ratings and the possibility that they might lose control of the Senate.

“[Republicans] stand to score points on charges against Obama for inconsistency and pandering to a reactionary regime that the president promised to destroy.”

Leonid Isaev thinks that U.S. public opinion will also play a role in determining the size and duration of the American campaign.

“It is a very labor-intensive process to destroy the Assad regime. And the U.S. is unlikely to be able to limit itself just to air strikes – it will also need to conduct a ground operation,” Isaev said. “If the Americans don’t manage to raise the combat capability of the Free Syrian Army as soon as possible, then there is a high likelihood that they won’t initiate a campaign against Assad and will avoid a major war in the Middle East.”

Reporting from Galia Ibragimova and Gevorg Mirzayan was used in this story.

READ MORE ON THE TOPIC «Security»

21 august 2014 | 23:00

Humanitarian convoy is now a vital piece in the political game

Negotiations on the fate of the Russian humanitarian convoy of nearly 300 trucks, which has already been on the Russo-Ukrainian border for nearly a week, are drawing to a close. The sides have agreed on all issues related to customs clearances, and observers have not found any weaponry at all in the trucks.

29 july 2014 | 22:00

Blaming Russia in the West: harmless, but useless

Western governments locked up in short electoral cycles are bound to continue same policies towards Russia.

15 march 2017 | 20:38

The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: At the Crossroads of Foreign Policy Interests

The conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh was one of the first of its kind in the former USSR. Over the past quarter of a century, it has transformed from an intercommunal and inter-republic conflict within a single state (the USSR) into a protracted confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan with the prospects for resolution being unclear.

 

21 september 2015 | 22:00

Contours of an Alarming Future: Five Years Will Decide the Prospects of Russia and the World

If Russia holds out until 2020 and all attempts by its enemies to bring it to economic collapse, chaos, and disintegration fail, then we can be certain that the era of Western dominance has ended. Thus, international relations will officially enter a new era.

What′s your opinion on this?

Dossier
19 september 2016 | 10:30
7 april 2016 | 20:00
10 april 2015 | 21:00
10 april 2015 | 21:00
23 march 2015 | 21:00
18 december 2014 | 21:00
10 november 2014 | 23:00
9 december 2013 | 23:00
Next page Previous page
 
Get access to our free content
Do not show again