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‘US, Russia fighting Assad, not ISIL terrorists’

26 September 2015 11:58



An Indonesian based political commentator says the recent remarks made by high ranking US officials suggest a new effort is under way to pressure Russia into embracing America’s “incoherent” and “contradictory policies on Syria.”

Barry Grossman, an international lawyer based on the Indonesian island of Bali, made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Friday while commenting on US officials’ statements over Russia’s assistance to the Syrian government.

Echoing similar remarks made recently by UK and European officials, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that the Russian military build-up in Syria “appears to be an effort to continue to prop up the Assad regime.”

Advancing the same theme, Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said on Thursday that any effort to crush the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group without simultaneously pursuing a political transition away from President Bashar al-Assad will only “fuel the very kind of extremism that underlies ISIL and stressed Washington’s “desire to defeat ISIL” as well as “the need for a political transition in Syria.”

Grossman said that he would that “be astounded if many Americans understand what their nation’s objectives are in Syria”, adding that “these latest comments by John Kirby and Ashton Carter highlight the continuing contradiction in US policy towards Syria.”

According to the analyst, “their  remarks suggest that the US is making a calculated new effort  to bring Russia into line with its own  incoherent  policy by pressuring [Russian President] Putin  to embrace the US-led effort to oust Assad at any cost and to prioritize that objective  over  the fight against terrorism.”

“The problem,” Grossman observed, “is that the effort on the ground to oust Assad is overwhelmingly being carried out by armed combatants supported by regional governments and which the United States has officially designated to be members of terrorist organizations. That being the case, there simply is no moderate opposition to take over should the elected Assad government fail.”

Regarding US policy on Syria, the international lawyer highlighted its contradictions by saying that “despite US political rhetoric which claims to denounce the very same groups which are targeting Assad as being terrorist organizations, the dominant position embraced by the US political and security apparatus continues to encourage and even support combatants fighting under the various banners of convenience which have emerged in Syria.”

“Apparently, as far as Syria is concerned,” Grossman said that  “the US now distinguishes what it euphemistically refers to as terrorist organizations  – which it is supposedly  committed to fighting – from the individuals associated with those very same  offending organizations. It certainly doesn’t seem to concern the US establishment that the insurgents which it supports only exist because of their affiliation with those very same organizations.”

Regarding US priorities in the region, the political commentator said that “whatever US politicians say  publically about fighting ISIS [ISIL] and other groups in the region which are designated as terrorists, these latest remarks by Ashton Carter and others  make it clear that the US remains committed to  prioritizing its goal of regime change over all other considerations in Syria,  including the so-called war on terrorism,  the dictates of international law, and the exploding humanitarian crises.”

Grossman concluded his remarks by observing that “for a nation which, since its war on Vietnam, has been obsessed about having clear objectives and an exit strategy in all military conflicts, it is very strange indeed that when it comes to Syria, the US-led coalition’s lack of both clear exit strategy and clear objectives does not have the alarm bells ringing around the clock.”

US officials claim that Russia is engaged in a military build-up in the Arab nation. They say Moscow has recently sent hundreds of troops, as well as fighter jets, artillery and other military hardware to an airport in Syria’s western province of Latakia.

Washington says that Moscow is seeking to establish a military outpost in Syria to help the government in its fight against Daesh terrorists. US officials also said the deployment raises the possibility of air combat missions in Syrian airspace.

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since March 2011. The United States and its regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – have been supporting the militants operating inside Syria since the beginning of the crisis.

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