Secretary of State John Kerry’s support for a plan to increase coordination with Russia on their respective wars in Syria, with an eye toward targeting al-Qaeda as well as ISIS, is bringing the plan closer to fruition, and as it gets there, more and more other US officials are blasting the idea.
It’s not so much specific problems with the design of the plan that has many US military and intelligence officials in opposition, so much as the general notion that Russia simply can’t be trusted on anything, with many adding that the plan, despite nominally being Kerry’s plan, as actually a plot by Russian President Vladimir Putin to discredit the US war effort.
One specific is still producing some criticism though, and that’s the idea of expanding the strikes to include al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, with some US officials quoted as saying that’s a bad idea because Nusra fighters are “commingled” with the moderate rebels.
Which if anything reflects Russia’s long-standing gripe about the US arming “moderate” factions, that so much of their gear is ending up in the hands of al-Qaeda. It was never exactly a secret either, with US officials openly urging Russia for months not to attack Nusra targets for fear they would hit US-backed groups.
In the end, that means that beyond the claims that anything Russia-related must be a Russian “trick,” the real obstacle to the US coordinating with Russia and fighting al-Qaeda is the significant interest among US officials in not attacking al-Qaeda.
The intelligence community only adds to that obstacle, because they’ve also openly opposed attacking ISIS for months, arguing the war should be against the Syrian government, and by extension against Russia, with ISIS simply to be ignored.