Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed Sunday a new coalition in Syria to fight the Islamic State and to save his ally, President Bashar al-Assad on the eve of a decisive meeting in New York with his US counterpart Barack Obama.
Russia is the diplomatic and military offensive on the Syrian track, a strategy that the Kremlin leader will clarify Monday at the United Nations General Assembly.
These Russian initiatives in the Middle East concerns the United States that seem increasingly fait accompli by Moscow, whose own military strategy against ultra radical Sunni group EI seems rather skate.
In an interview on American television CBS, aired Sunday, but made several days ago, President Putin announced that he was seeking to put up with “the countries of the region (…) a kind of frame coordination “against the jihadists of EI in Syria and Iraq.
“We would have a common platform for collective action against terrorists,” he said.
Mr Putin, who takes over for weeks on Syria, said he had “personally informed” the Saudi and Jordanian rulers of its proposal, and the United States.
Another ally of Damascus, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he was ready to discuss with Russia, the United States and Europeans of “action plan (…) to hunt terrorists” in Syria, an interview on US public radio NPR.
Washington and sixty European and Arab Sunni fly past year a military coalition strikes strongholds EI in Syria and Iraq. Paris also has just completed its first strike in Syria, after reconnaissance flights. “France has hit a training camp of the terrorist group Daech (Arabic acronym EI) which threatened the security of our country,” said Sunday the president Francois Hollande in New York.
Obama-Putin meeting Monday
For its part Russia has significantly increased its military presence in the northwest of Syria, deploying troops and aircraft in one of the strongholds of the regime, and it also increased its arms supplies to its ally.
Putin believes, and he still insisted on CBS, as the only way to find out of the crisis in Syria is to support its president Bashar al-Assad.
The head of the Russian state must be explained Monday before the General Assembly of the UN, he sulked for years. There must boast its plan for Syria, a broad coalition including the army of Damascus.
On the sidelines of the UN, he will meet President Obama on Monday night for their first formal interview since summer 2013. The two powers have frosty relations since Ukraine crisis and the war in Syria, which has claimed more than 240 000 dead in four and a half years.
To prepare for this decisive encounter, their foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry, met again on Sunday in New York. They called both for “coordinated effort” against EI.
American diplomacy for years demanded a departure from the Syrian president as part of a political solution, but it has already softened his stance: one week ago, John Kerry conceded that the timing of the release of Mr. Assad was negotiable .
Assad is a “dictator”
Remains as Washington eyes the Syrian president is the “dictator” responsible for the tragedy of his country. “Besides the fact that its own people and gauze using explosive barrels (…) it has not been effective in combating EI”, denounced the US ambassador to UN Samantha Power, on ABC.
The Russian president did not deprive himself to castigate the failure of American strategy, including the fiasco of training by the Pentagon moderate Syrian rebels. “Only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained and only four or five are in fact armed, others who deserted with US arms to reach the IE,” he criticized on CBS.
For the master of the Kremlin, there is a “sole legitimate conventional army” in Syria, the regime, which effectively fight the IE.