Is Russia deepening Cooperation with US in Syria, or hitting US Bases?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

About a week ago, Russian warplanes bombed a Syrian base used by the US and the UK. The Wall Street Journal suggested that Russia was attempting to herd Washington into a closer military cooperation.

At the same time, the Arabic press commented on on a Washington Post story that the US and Russia are jointly striking al-Qaeda in Syria now.

The US had avoided doing much bombing of al-Qaeda (the Nusra Front), according to the Alaraby site, since they were hoping that Nusra would cut off al-Qaeda and renounce their relationship, and because US-backed groups were allied with Nusra on the battlefield. Now that Nusra is in the sights of Russian and US warplanes, there are likely to be defections from its coalition, the Army of Conquest.

Meanwhile, the Russian media is reporting an enhanced level of counter-terrorism cooperation between the US and Russia, with joint strikes against ISIL. The BBC Monitoring reports that:

“Six Russian Tu-22M3 long-range bombers have attacked Islamic State (also known as IS/ISIL) targets in Syria, striking two command posts on 21 July, the Russian Defence Ministry has said, privately-owned Interfax news agency reported that day.

The attacks were carried out at 0200 gmt against Islamic State targets east of Palmyra as well as “in the vicinity of the towns of Sukhna, Arak, Al-Teyb” in Homs province, the ministry said.. .

Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1203 gmt 21 Jul 16

Under these circumstances, I don’t find plausible the idea that the Russians hit the US/UK base as a way of drawing those two Powers into the coalition against al-Qaeda in Syria. Rather, I just think bombing from a height is always somewhat inaccurate. But the premise of the whole story, that the US and Russia are strengthening their cooperation in Syria, seems now very possible.

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Related video:

New China TV: ” Russian Tu-22M3 long-range bombers destroy ISIS command centers in Syria”

Posted in Featured,Syria | 8 Responses | Print |

8 Responses

  1. Cooperation has always been sensible, and seen to be so by all but those American Exceptionalists for whom Russia and it’s allies are heretics fit only for the stake and eternal incineration in Hell. My hunch, mainly based on the evasive circumlocutions of DOS spokespersons, is that it has been inching that way for some time but US amour propre is only prepared to see it in terms of Russia joining the US coalition, not anything mutual and certainly not the other way round. In any event, Erdogan’s moves towards rapport with Putin and the publication of the hitherto hidden 28 pages on the KSA and 9/11 may have repositioned the goal posts somewhat.

    • “the premise of the whole story, that the US and Russia are strengthening their cooperation in Syria, seems now very possible.”

      “Cooperation has always been sensible, and seen to be so by all but those American Exceptionalists for whom Russia and it’s allies are heretics fit only for the stake and eternal incineration in Hell.”

      I’d like to read the memoranda regarding our strategic relationship with Russia which will be left behind for the new administration. Despite the failure of the much anticipated ‘peace dividend’ we hoped for after the collapse of the Soviet Union in ’89-’91, there has been a change in the atmosphere.

      I trust that it was Obama who reinforced his prospects for progress in Europe, where the divide is always along the Russian border, by including her in the all-powerful Quartet. It appears that she has performed admirably in that leadership role. There has been little boat-rocking, missile rattling behaviour.

      She has performed without a hitch in her support for the French Initiative, leaving behind with her other colleagues an admirable document firmly summarising their support for the Initiative and describing it in the French fashion and in the same way as had the earlier conference of European foreign ministers. This is really striking cooperation at the continental level.

      Then there is Syria, where we have avoided clashes with the Russian military and in my view strengthened the relationship again by implicitly recognising that she has an historic stake there.

      So, with the exception of the followers of the Marquis de Custine, I look for a concerted effort to gradually welcome Russia into the community of European nations. It could take a generation but it’s well worth the effort. I don’t think that even Nato membership should be off the table in the long term.

  2. in other news…evicted fallujah residents swelter in 127 degree desert refugee camps. the shia government digs a medieval trench around the empty city.

    us backed ethnic cleansing continues. us war against sunni iraq continues. us war of lies continues.

    bombing is what we do. we are the terrorists. we are the bad guys.

  3. ¿What?
    Reads like a movie review: I don’t like the acting, I don’t like the directing, I don’t like the story – but, all in all, you’ve got to go see it!
    What is happening is usa moving away from regime change – change it has no int’l right to.
    usa don’t know what it’s doing – ‘cept making $$$ by selling bombs and bomb delivery vessels.
    Indict, Impeach

  4. I hope Obama hurries and gets ISIL wiped before Hillary is in charge. I can only dread what she will do. There will be no cooperation with Russia.

    • Can we put paid to this exaggerating depiction of Hillary Clinton as a latter-day Dubya. She’s hardly an incoherent Cold Warrior with a thirst for blood. Assuming she wins the election, she’ll likely treat Putin and the Russians as a pragmatist. The Russians have been bad actors in Ukraine and they are opportunistic about stirring up mischief – everywhere from Syria to the DNC. Doesn’t mean that Hillary is going to pick an unnecessary fight with them, but she ought to deal with Moscow as a realist. Whether the Russians desire a constructive relationship or a confrontational one with the US is more up to the Kremlin than it is with the new occupant of the White House.

  5. I expect that such incidents would help encourage closer cooperation, if only to get the ability to discuss targets. What we don’t want is each side beefing up their anti-aircraft defenses and shooting at each other. That could lead to unpleasant escalations.

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