France Wants Grand Coalition Against ISIS, But US Still Seeks to Exclude Russia

US Trying to Use Inclusion as Leverage in Vienna Talks

Since Friday evening’s attacks, French officials have repeatedly declared their desire to see a “grand coalition” of nations fighting ISIS, with President Hollande saying it’s time to put aside “diverging interests” and unite against ISIS in general.

This comment is pointed squarely at the current divide in the ISIS war, with the US-led coalition fighting one anti-ISIS war, and several other nations fighting ISIS, but being excluded by the US. Russia is the biggest of these nations, and the US seems eager to keep it that way.

Speaking during his visit to the Philippines, President Obama insisted Russia needed to be kept out of their coalition right now, and that the US intends to “wait and see” if Russia gets closer to the US position on a diplomatic settlement at the Vienna talks.

Russia has been calling for reforms leading to free elections, while the Obama Administration demands the exclusion of President Assad and other top figures in the existing Syrian government from any post-war government. Officials seem to hope they can leverage Russia’s desire to get involved in the coalition to get them to make concessions on the reform plan.

Whether that’s going to work out remains to be seen, but Russia’s primary goal in its involvement in Syria is to assure they retain their naval base at Tartus, and they are unlikely to willingly allow the entire government they’re allied to to be simply expelled in favor of pro-US rebels in the hopes that they’ll be allowed into the bigger coalition fighting ISIS.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.