September 17, 2015—Thousands of bombing raids and hundreds of millions of dollars spent in the 13-month-long war against the Islamic State have resulted in such a failure that a Russian military offer is being welcomed by the US.
Just “four or five” US-vetted Syrian rebels remain in the so-called New Syrian Force (NSF), according to General Lloyd Austin, head of US Central Command. Spending up to $4 million per “moderate rebel” has only led to dozens fleeing, joining Islamists, or getting killed. Not that they’re going to stop anytime soon as there is still plenty of appropriated congressional funds for the project. From Antiwar.com:
“Austin went on to say that the next two classes of NSF fighters are still being trained, though that training too is falling behind schedule. The indications are that these classes aren’t much bigger, 100-120 fighters all told. The pared-back goal of 5,000 fighters is likely still years off.”
But is a some figment of common sense creeping through into the US strategy? Though the US stubbornly refuses to coordinate at all with the strongest anti-Islamic State ground force, the Syrian army, it is at least open to the idea of direct military-to-military talks with Russia in Syria.
“Secretary of State John Kerry revealed the Russian offer for talks when he told reporters on Wednesday that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had proposed them in a phone call a day earlier. Kerry said he personally thought the idea was a good one, but stressed that the administration was still weighing its merits. Other officials said later that national security adviser Susan Rice had signed off on the talks and that Defense Secretary Ash Carter had agreed.”
Russia claims, as the US does, that the primary goal is the defeat of the Islamic State. But the US, arguably to an unhealthy degree, also seeks to overthrow the Assad government. Russia has interests in Syria, but may be open to a reformation of the Syrian government as long as it’s not the US booting Russia out of the process.
Should the US get out of Syria entirely or cooperate with Russia? Comment below!