The Russians are the heroes of the hour. People greet the few foreigners who visit with a cheerful Russian “Dobry den!” and shout out their enthusiasm for President Putin, who they believe will deliver them from terrorism. Many think the west is supporting Isis, which they call by its Arabic acronym, Daesh.
“We can see that the Russians are determined to defeat Daesh and the terrorists, whereas by contrast the Americans and their coalition don’t seem to have the same determination,” said Safwan al-Saada, the governor of Tartus. “In the last year they said they were fighting terrorism, but Daesh grew stronger, not weaker, so we can say their coalition is not serious.”
"I think the most important thing is that we’ve got to defeat and destroy [Islamic State] – they are the most dangerous thing to all of the nations in the world. I describe them as ‘the wolf closest to the shed’. We must destroy them and then think about getting security and peace to Syria."
-- Admiral Sir Alan West, former U.K. First Sea Lord
October 7, 2015
Published time: 7 Oct, 2015 16:34
Edited time: 7 Oct, 2015 18:04
The first priority is to destroy ISIS, which is the top danger to all nations in the world, says former UK First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord West. And we can only do that if the whole coalition is involved with Russia, Iran and Assad forces, he adds.
Russian Navy warships have joined the anti-terror operation by firing missiles from the Caspian Sea at ISIS positions in Syria.
RT: Warships have now entered the fold. How will they help Russian counter-terrorist operation?
Admiral Lord West: I think using all arms is very valuable and clearly there’ve been … the targets that have spotted by people on the ground and using ship-based missiles is a very good way of doing that. We do it, of course, using TacToms and things like that, so, it is their equivalent of that, that’s useful. But I think the most important thing is that we’ve got to defeat and destroy ISIL – they are the most dangerous thing to all of the nations in the world. I describe them as ‘the wolf closest to the shed’. We must destroy them and then think about getting security and peace to Syria.
But the first thing is to destroy ISIL. And we can only do that, I believe, if the whole coalition is involved with Russia and also Iran, and, I am afraid, also with Assad. No matter how much some of us in the West don’t like Assad, it has got to be all those people involved because we’ve got to destroy ISIL - that is the first priority.
RT: It’s been a huge game changer this week with Russia getting involved because frankly the situation was going backwards before, wasn’t it?
AW: I won’t say it was going backwards but I’ve been saying for a long time – we need a comprehensive, agreed strategic plan for how we move forward. And it is no good just doing airstrikes, you have to have boots on the ground somehow, they have to be there. And also one needs to actually go to the heartland of ISIL which is within Syria. I am sure in time they will be pushed out to Iraq, I am sure they will. But that still leaves Syria. So, we’ve got to resolve that problem and it is highly complex and very difficult.
RT: Russia has maintained so far that there will be no foot on the ground. Why is Russia saying that won’t happen? Could it practically help this ongoing fight or is this something that should be avoided at all cost?
AW: I think the involvement of either Russian or American, British or French ground troops in Syria will be an error at the moment. But at some stage there will have to be boots on the ground. And, perhaps, we will look at something like Egyptian or Jordanian - their non-sectarian type troops and forces - to go into certain areas what would have to be done in conjunction with an agreement from Assad because he has boots on the ground there. And then what Russia, America and ourselves [UK] and other countries can provide is the air capability, reconnaissance capability. We never talk about special forces, but I am sure they will be involved.
And it needs to be a very comprehensive strategy; we need to absolutely take on ISIL in the propaganda sphere which we haven’t done as well as we should have done. We need to absolutely strangle all their money supplies, which we haven’t done properly yet. And it needs to be an all-pervasive strategy and it has to include everyone. Iran has to be involved; they have Hezbollah fighters actually on the ground there. So, it has to involve all these people. And it is no good being sort of ‘namby pamby’ about it saying: “I don’t like them.” At the end of the day ISIL want to kill our people…
The Get Russia Crowd isn't going to listen to Sir Alan, any more than they're listening to American top Russia expert Dr Stephen F. Cohen, who's pointed out that cooperation between the U.S. and Russia over dealing with Islamic State would be the last chance to de-escalate America's rush to a new cold war. That crowd isn't interested in de-escalation.
That's the way things are, and the only thing that will change the status quo is when the U.S. government can no longer kite checks to keep itself afloat in a sea of red ink. Only then will Americans stop shrugging off lunatic defense policies out of Washington.
But it's a respite from the lunacy to hear on occasion voices of reason shout above the mob. The question is whether Syrians would accept the kind of coalition that Sir Alan is proposing. Many are now firmly in the anti-American and anti-Western camps.
Well, here is the podcast for Stephen Cohen's Tuesday night briefing for John Batchelor's audience on the status of the Ukraine crisis and, in the second part of the discussion, the U.S. reaction to Russia's entry into the Syrian War.
He also mentions his involvement with the nonprofit American Committee for East-West Accord, which is striving to get the U.S. government to see reason about its current Russia policy. However, the committee doesn't have big bucks to throw around Washington, London, and Brussels, whereas the Get Russia Crowd does.