Russia signals willingness to cooperate with West on DAESH

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says country could cooperate with US-led alliance against DAESH if western coalition does not violate Syrian ‘sovereignty’

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with high level officials including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, intelligence chief Bortnikov, and Chief of General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov over Russian passenger jet downed in Egypt on Oct. 31.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has declared that his country is willing to collaborate with the US-led anti-DAESH coalition if the western alliance does not violate Syrian "sovereignty."

Lavrov said on Thursday, "We are ready for practical cooperation with those countries who are part of the coalition and are ready to develop with them such forms of coordination that of course would respect Syria's sovereignty and the prerogatives of the Syrian leadership," according to Agence France Presse, citing Russian news agencies.

French President Francois Hollande announced on Nov. 18 that he will visit both the US and Russian capitals next week in order to discuss possible alternatives to "decisively" defeat the DAESH terrorist organisation with an enlarged allied effort following the deadly Paris attacks.

DAESH terrorists targeted six different locations in Paris last Friday night, killing at least 129 people and injuring more than 300 others.

Hollande said he plans to speak with his American and Russian counterparts to develop "a large coalition" against DAESH by uniting the "sometimes diverging interests" of the major powers.

US President Barack Obama has responded to efforts to establish "a large coalition" against DAESH by saying, “If we get a better understanding with Russia, that obviously opens up more opportunities for coordination with respect to ISIL [DAESH]. And so the two things can’t be completely separated," in a speech on Wednesday in the Philippines during his far east trip following the G20 Antalya Summit.

"We’re going to wait and see whether, in fact, Russia does end up devoting more attention to targets that are ISIL [DAESH] targets," he added.

Russian intervention into the Syrian conflict began with a bombing campaign on the side of the Assad regime on Sept. 30, targeting mostly Syrian opposition-held territories in the country, rather than DAESH. The intervention has been strongly protested by the US, Turkey and the NATO alliance.

The Russian air strikes have mainly targeted the Army of Conquest which is an anti-Assad opposition alliance including US-supported militant groups.

Anti-DAESH alliances

Syria has seemingly become the scene of a new showdown between two former cold war actors, Russia and US, and their respective allies whom are opposed DAESH.

Russian media previously reported that the country had agreed with Iraq, Syria, and Iran to share intelligence in the fight against ISIS, effectively establishing a so-called anti-DAESH alliance based in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.  

An existing US-led coalition including Turkey, several western countries and Gulf Arab states battling DAESH has already been operating in both Iraq and Syria in an effort to uproot the terrorist group and the US also has a significant military presence in Baghdad.

However, the two anti-DAESH alliances have prominent disagreements with each other concerning the Syrian civil war and the fate of the current head of the Syrian regime Bashar al Assad.

The US and its allies are opposed to the Assad regime and back opposition groups while Russia has supported the regime since the beginning of the conflict.

US and Russian leaders and diplomats have recently been trying to resolve their own differences in various gatherings from the Vienna talks to the recent G20 Summit which was held in Turkey on Nov. 15-16.

The latest Vienna talks on the Syrian conflict were held on Nov. 14 with the participation of the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, the UK, the United Nations, and the US.

Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu announced following the meeting said, "There has been an agreement on the Syrian issue that it should have a resolution based on a political process. [The participants] have also reached a consensus on when this process will start," in his remarks to journalists on Oct. 16.

In parallel with these developments President Hollande is trying to do his best in order to play the role of bridge builder during his scheduled visits to Washington and Moscow, aiming to form a joint front against DAESH.

Hollande described the Paris attacks as "an act of war" on Nov. 14 and noted that the attacks were "prepared, organised planned outside the country with inside complicity that the investigation will establish."

"France, because it was attacked in a cowardly, shameful and violent way, will be merciless toward the ISIL [DAESH] barbarians. It will act using all means according to the rule of law, in all terrains - interior and exterior - in accordance with our allies," he declared.

TRTWorld and agencies