PARIS — By attacking civilian targets effectively beyond its territory, the Islamic State has seemingly achieved what diplomats had failed to do. All of a sudden, the international order has been scrambled, drawing the United States, Russia and France together in a feasible alliance against the terrorist group.
Every single of the 3 longtime powers now has its own reasons for wanting to destroy the Islamic State soon after the pitiless attacks on civilians in Paris and the downing of a Russian passenger jet carrying vacationers. President Obama has provided intelligence to facilitate French airstrikes and suggested he was open to far more cooperation with Russia.
But so far, that alliance remains largely theoretical. Even as President François Hollande of France requires on the function of bridge builder with back-to-back trips subsequent week to Washington and Moscow, strong centrifugal forces are nonetheless pulling the would-be partners apart as competing national interests challenge efforts to translate that newly shared aspiration into a sustained collaboration more than time.
Mr. Obama and President Vladimir V. Putin harbor fundamental disagreements more than a host of problems that have not been dissolved by the Paris attacks. Dividing them are the Russian annexation of Crimea and its meddling in eastern Ukraine, Moscow’s efforts to demonize Washington and undermine self-confidence in NATO’s commitment to collective defense, and the Kremlin’s assistance of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
“It’s certainly a good factor for us and a great thing for France if we have a a lot more coordinated strategy toward these airstrikes in Syria,” mentioned Karen Donfried, a former White Residence adviser to Mr. Obama who is now the president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “But how committed Russia actually is about taking on the Islamic State, I don’t believe any of us really knows. I stay genuinely skeptical that our interests converge right here.”
Strobe Talbott, the president of the Brookings Institution and a former deputy secretary of state, mentioned any genuine alliance would demand a seismic alter in the Russians’ strategy toward Syria, exactly where they say they are attempting to fight terrorism but seem more bent on preserving Mr. Assad.
“Maybe it is getting by means of to them,” Mr. Talbott stated. “They preserve speaking about being component of a resolution. But they speak the speak of getting part of the remedy and they walk the walk of becoming element of the problem.”
Just how complicated assembling such a coalition would be was underscored Wednesday when French diplomats at the United Nations started discussions with colleagues on the Safety Council on a draft measure authorizing force against the Islamic State. The French ambassador, François Delattre, described it as “short, powerful and focused on the fight against our frequent enemy.”
But just as France prepared to share its measure with council diplomats, Russia floated a proposal of its own, resurrecting a draft resolution that went nowhere earlier this fall because it insisted on cooperating with the government of nations affected by terrorism — in Syria’s case, with Mr. Assad. Vitaly I. Churkin, the Russian ambassador, stated failing to perform with the government “is certainly weakening the possibility of a joint fight against terrorists.”
Aides stated privately that Mr. Obama was skeptical, but in meetings in Turkey, the Philippines, Austria and Paris over the last couple of days, he and his secretary of state, John Kerry, have held their reservations and broached the possibility of Russia and the United States working together to defeat the Islamic State.
Following meeting with Mr. Putin final weekend in Turkey, Mr. Obama said in Manila on Wednesday that Russia had been “a constructive partner” in talks in Vienna searching for a road map for a cease-fire in the Syrian civil war that has offered rise to the Islamic State. But for additional cooperation, he said, Mr. Putin should direct significantly less at the Syrian rebels supported by the United States and more at the Islamic State, also recognized as ISIS or ISIL.
“The problem has been in their initial military incursion into Syria, they have been far more focused on propping up President Assad,” Mr. Obama said. If Mr. Putin “shifts his focus and the focus of his military to what is the principal threat, which is ISIL, then that is what we want to see.”
Mr. Hollande, under huge stress at residence after the attacks, is attempting to take the diplomatic initiative. Sensing a chance for rapprochement, he plans to travel to Washington on Tuesday to meet with Mr. Obama, and then to Moscow to meet with Mr. Putin. Mr. Hollande stated on Wednesday that he desires to forge “a massive coalition” to act “decisively” against the Islamic State.
In pursuing such a coalition, Mr. Hollande was cautious not to ask the NATO alliance to come to France’s defense below Write-up five, which obligates members to aid one one more in case of attack. That write-up has been invoked only once, right after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Given Mr. Obama’s adamant resistance to putting huge numbers of American ground forces in Syria or Iraq, a French diplomat said on Wednesday that Paris was unwilling to embarrass Mr. Obama by “asking for the impossible.”
Alternatively, to broaden France’s diplomatic support, Mr. Hollande invoked an unusual article in the Lisbon Treaty governing the European Union. Post 42.7 states that if a member is topic to “armed aggression on its territory” other members have an “obligation of help and assistance by all the means in their power” constant with their obligations to NATO.
Asked on Twitter why France invoked the European Union treaty and not the NATO charter, Gérard Araud, the French ambassador to Washington, wrote that one reason was “the dialogue with Russia.” The implication was that Russia is hostile toward NATO and as a result invoking the alliance’s help may well be provocative toward Moscow.
The European Union nations voted unanimously to help France, but the treaty does not commit them to military action and intelligence sharing is already effectively created. No other European nation has been willing to confront Islamic radicalism as the French have, at property and in Mali, Iraq and Syria.
Even Britain, nonetheless bruised from its participation in the Iraq invasion of 2003, has not been prepared to strike inside Syria. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to seek approval from Parliament ahead of action in Syria and to proceed only if he has “a clear majority.” The election of Jeremy Corbyn, the new tough-left Labour Celebration leader, has not produced that less difficult.
The United States, Europe and Russia have had moments given that the Cold War when their interests converged. Walter Slocombe, a former under secretary of defense, recalled that the American and Russian militaries worked together in Bosnia and Kosovo. In Bosnia, he mentioned, “it worked out O.K., but that was a different Russia and an practically completely benign environment.”
The Obama administration is suspicious that beyond bolstering Mr. Assad, Russia’s real goal in Syria is taking consideration off Ukraine — in impact, trading the status quo for collaboration in the Middle East. “Are we willing to give up on Ukraine?” asked Ivo H. Daalder, Mr. Obama’s former ambassador to NATO and now president of the Chicago Council on International Affairs. “I’m worried that we fall in this trap.”
Beyond the United States, Russia and Europe, there are other players in Syria, specifically Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Mr. Kerry has worked to forge a consensus among them. But as Mr. Daalder mentioned, “except for France and the United States, at this point no 1 thinks going after ISIS is the initial priority.”
With out that, he mentioned, “I don’t see this as a new coalition.”
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