04:51 GMT14 July 2020
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    Russia Versus ISIL in Syria (618)

    In piece published in Wednesday's Le Figaro, journalist Renaud Girard explained why the West's criticisms of the Russian campaign of airstrikes in Syria make absolutely no sense, and asked whether the US and Europe really want to see Al-Qaeda set up shop in Damascus.

    US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles conducting airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. File photo.
    © REUTERS / U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/Handout
    Commenting on the criticisms of Russia's air campaign which have been emerging in Washington, London and Paris, Girard noted that ultimately the aggressive criticisms are, to say the least, "surprising, both in form and in substance."

    Hypocrisy 101

    "As far as form is concerned," Girard explained, it is highly hypocritical of the Americans to criticize Russia over its Syrian airstrikes, at the same time that the US itself is involved in a somewhat controversial campaign of airstrikes against Taliban forces threatening their allies in Kabul. 

    The journalist recalled that the US's strikes, incidentally, had recently resulted in what the Americans called "collateral damage," in the form of "the bombing a hospital belonging to Medecins Sans Frontiers, which killed over a dozen employees of the French organization."

    The journalist recalled that the US has been involved in Afghanistan for over a decade, and is still "battling there against the Taliban 14 years" since the initial intervention.

    As far as Russian's involvement in Syria is concerned, Girard recalls that "Moscow agreed to military and political cooperation with the secular regime there back in the 1960s."

    The journalist explained that "today, Syria is under threat of being overwhelmed by an Islamist wave, financed by Turkey and Qatar. America has decided that Kabul should not fall into the hands of the Taliban, and Russia similarly considers that Damascus…must be protected from Al-Qaeda. It is surprising that the US State Department cannot recognize such obvious parallels."

    It is an especially odd sight to see, Girard noted, given that when "in the fall of 2001, America launched its large-scale 'War on Terror', Washington appealed for logistical support to the Kremlin, and Vladimir Putin was quick to provide it."

    "So why is it that the West now refuses to consider Putin's proposals to create an anti-Islamist coalition in Syria? Have we fallen into a stupor at the sight of Wahhabi ideology? Or have we been bought by the Arab oil monarchies?"

    Washington & Allies Unhappy to See Russia Bomb Al-Qaeda and 'Non-Existent' Moderate Syrian Rebels

    Commenting on the "substance" behind the West's criticism of Russia's involvement in Syria, Girard explained that "the West" seems to be "unhappy that Russia has not limited itself to striking only against the Islamic State (which by the way, once again reminded the world of their existence on October 4, when they blew up the Triumphal Arch in Palmyra, a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site)."

    "Yes, Russia really has focused many of their strikes against the 'Army of Conquest', which comprises the second major military force in the Syrian uprising," the journalist wrote, referring to the coalition of radical Islamist groups, many of them affiliated with Al-Qaeda, presently fighting the Syrian Arab Army.

    Girard explained that this collection of AQ and Salafi misfits, which receive logistical support from Turkey, now factually poses a serious threat to the Syrian capital. Moreover, "both groups have promised that they would immediately implement Sharia law following the capture of Damascus." 

    Commenting on Western fears that Russia might bomb the so-called moderate opposition, the journalist explained that the reality on the ground is that the Syrian Arab Army "is factually just a ghost. In the course of a Syrian civil war…the Free Syrian Army has played an important role in the space of information warfare, but had managed absolutely nothing of any military value."

    Ultimately, the journalist urged Western governments not to repeat the mistakes of history. "If Al-Qaeda were to capture Damascus, it would result in the immediate slaughter of all the Alawites (for 'apostasy'), and, in the best case, the expulsion of the Christians to neighboring Lebanon."

    "In power since 2000, could it be said that Bashar al-Assad has failed to unite the country? Absolutely. But that is no reason to open the gates of Damascus before hordes of Islamist barbarians," Girard concluded.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    political analysis, expert opinion, op-ed, analysis, Army of Conquest, Syrian Arab Army, Al-Nusra Front, Free Syrian Army (FSA), al-Qaeda, Renaud Girard, Syria, United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France
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