Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov adresses to his Malian counterpart Abdoulaye Diop (not pictured) during their meeting in Moscow, September 9, 2014. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)
If the West bombs Islamic State militants in Syria without consulting Damascus, the anti-ISIS alliance may use the occasion to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad’s forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“There are reasons to suspect that air strikes on Syrian territory may target not only areas controlled by Islamic State militants, but the government troops may also be attacked on the quiet to weaken the positions of Bashar Assad’s army,” Lavrov said Tuesday.
Such a development would lead to a huge escalation of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, Lavrov told reporters in Moscow after a meeting with the foreign minister of Mali.
Moscow is urging the West to respect international law and undertake such acts only with the approval of the legitimate government of a state, Lavrov said.
“Not a single country should have its own plans on such issues. There can be only combined, collective, univocal actions. Only this way can a result be achieved,” he said.
His comments came shortly after Washington announced plans to go on the offensive against the Islamic State jihadist group. The US military has already launched over 100 airstrikes against militant targets in Iraq, including a new series that the military said killed an unusually large number of Islamic State fighters, AP reported.
US President Barack Obama speaks on the phone with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office of the White House on August 8, 2014 in Washington, DC after US jets struck ISIL positions in northern Iraq.
The Obama administration is reportedly preparing to begin air strikes on Syrian territory without the consent of the Syrian government. The pretext is the rapidly expanding US war on ISIL, but in fact this is the long-desired US attack on Syria that was temporarily thwarted, reportedly by popular opposition last year (but more likely by US knowledge that its claims the Assad government was behind the chemical attacks at Ghouta had no basis in reality and would not stand up to even superficial scrutiny).
Though it makes for a compelling story, the idea that popular opposition to Obama’s plans to attack Syria last year stopped the bombs seems more wishful thinking than reality.
Consider how easy it has been these past two weeks to obliterate any opposition among the American people to the same US attack plan regurgitated almost exactly one year later.
A series of salacious stories about ISIL slaughtering a Yazidi minority that no one had even heard of mobilized US public opinion in favor of initial US strikes and even ground troops in Iraq.
Never mind that the US and its allies had armed and trained the individuals who now call themselves ISIL (now simply “IS”) for a number of years.
Another “babies thrown from incubators” story and even self-identified non-interventionists were screaming for bombing runs.
Then came the video released purporting to be the beheading of US freelance journalist (and former USAID contractor) James Foley. Though the video did not show an actual beheading, skeptics were nevertheless silenced by admonitions to not add to the family’s grief by questioning the official US government line. The videos were feverishly removed from social media outlets before many had the chance to see that they did not show a beheading at all.