November 18, 2015 | Quote

BREMMER: The Paris Attacks Put Russia and Iran ‘In a Stronger Position’

France has declared war on the Islamic State, and it is looking for partners.

“We must combine our forces to achieve a result that is already too late in coming,” French President Francois Hollande said in a rousing speech at the Palace of Versailles on Monday, days after France suffered the deadliest attack on its soil since World War II, at the hands of assailants linked to the Islamic State.

France has long resisted going harder against ISIS in Syria for fear of undermining or eliminating a principal rival of its longtime enemy, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But on Monday, Hollande made it clear that the Paris attacks had forced French officials to reassess their priorities — and accept that Russia, a longtime ally of Assad, may have an important role to play.

“The lack of Syrian fighters on the ground that look like acceptable partners is as true today as it was before the France bombings,” geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, told Business Insider in an email on Saturday. “And there won't be enough support for [Western] troops to get it done alone.”

“This puts Russia — and Iran — in a stronger position,” Bremmer added. “And the French are much more likely to take the lead in working with them than the Americans, especially now.”

Bremmer's predictions, so far, are panning out.


“Russia and Iran were always going to leverage Sunni jihadi terrorism to suit their own objectives on the ground in Syria — namely, shutting down support for Sunni opposition forces and getting the issue of an Assad transition completely taken off the table,” Tony Badran, a researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider on Tuesday.

“But the Russians are pushing up against a door left open by the Obama administration, which has from day one been framing its efforts in Syria as a battle against [Sunni] ISIS so as to not upset [Shia] Iran,” Badran continued.

“Russia has simply taken that narrative and expanded it to define terrorism in Syria as a Sunni variety of extremism, in the hopes of backing the few remaining supporters of the Syrian revolution — such as France — into a corner.”

“The big winner from the Paris attacks: Bashar al-Assad,” Jonathan Schanzer, the vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, tweeted on Monday.

“Barely mentioned among the causes of the Syria war or the flood of refugees,” he added of Assad.


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