Landis: Britain's Airstrikes Could Be Sign Of Changing European Attitudes Toward Syria

Dec 4, 2015

On Wednesday, bombs began falling in Syria hours after Britain’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve airstrikes against ISIS militants in the country.

The 320-211 vote followed hours of debate, and could be a sign Europeans are starting to coalesce around a common goal of defeating radical Islamic militants in the wake of last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, and security concerns in Brussels.

Syria Comment blogger Joshua Landis, who’s also the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told KGOU’s World Views the attacks in Paris changed the European community’s thinking about how to respond to ISIS.

“Previously, people had thought, 'Well, ISIS is just there to build a state in the middle of the Middle East.’,” Landis said. “But now it's quite clear that everybody is in peril by this group, and they've got to get serious about it.”

But how serious is the real question, and Germany could follow Britain’s lead as the refugee crisis compels more European countries to become involved in Syria. Landis says that’s causing domestic political tension in the United States, because the U.S. wants to both destroy ISIS, and overturn the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

“[Republican presidential candidate and Texas U.S. Sen] Ted Cruz just came out and said Obama's wrong to overturn ISIS, that we need our dictators, and it's because of this regime change in Libya, Syria, other places, Yemen, that ISIS and extremists are spreading, and that dictators are a bulwark against the spread,” Landis said. “So more Europeans are beginning to take that line. The British and the French were talking about working with the Russians and Assad's army. So there seems to be a creeping change here.”

Landis says the argument is gaining steam that the stability that comes from having a dictator in power is better than the instability that comes with promoting democracy in the region, and the possibility of regime change.

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