US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Moscow on Thursday for two days of talks that will include discussions on the Syrian civil war. While the exact details are unknown, a leaked US proposal indicates that Washington is looking to coordinate with Moscow in bombing efforts against Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State.
There are some who doubt the proposal can be effectively implemented. While the White House may be in favor of the move, Pentagon and US intelligence officials aren’t so sure. According to US Defense Department officials speaking to the Daily Beast on condition of anonymity, a significant old-guard contingent doesn’t trust Russia enough to share the key information necessary to make an effective fighting coalition.
Many of these same officials are also more interested in ousting the legitimately-elected Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than ending terrorism.
"That the intelligence community feels that way is unsurprising, as previous reports have suggested that most of them have been pushing to stop fighting ISIS in general and shift the war to imposing a regime change on the Assad government," Jason Ditz writes for AntiWar.com.
Speaking to Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear, security analyst Mark Sleboda has similar doubts as to whether Washington is serious about coordination.
It has been suggested, he said, that it is not known "Whether this is an actual outreach from the Obama administration or whether this is more signals that the Obama administration is increasingly confused and not in control of its own agencies."
"The CIA and Pentagon are actually in a proxy war with each other’s proxies killing each other in Syria, Kurds on one side and the so-called Free Syrian Army rebels on the other. So it’s not really clear."
"If you look at what the Russians have said…it is a very straightforward approach to end the civil war," Peter Lavelle, host of RT’s Crosstalk, adds. "The problem is, that’s not what the West wants.
"They’re more than willing to see this civil war kill more people, expand more proxies on the ground, because they will not tolerate the continuance of the Assad regime in Damascus."
Adding to these doubts, as of Thursday afternoon, talks between Washington and Moscow appear to be off to a slow start.
"We are not satisfied with the pace of cooperation between the [Russian and US] militaries on Syria. We believe that the full-format military cooperation must be established more expediently," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters.
She added that while the US appears interested in coordination, it is brought up short be its inability to break the ideological patterns it has displayed in the past in US-Russia relations.
"This ideological stance resembles very much the Soviet approach…when ideology always prevailed over pragmatism," she said. "And we believe that this attitude is the main stumbling block in our progress."
Speaking on his meeting with Kerry, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he welcomed joint constructive efforts.
"Judging by my latest talks with US President [Barack] Obama, I am convinced that we are not only sincerely striving to establish cooperation," he said, "…but also want to achieve concrete results."