It’s been a week since the world watched in horror as terrorists killed 130 people in a series of coordinated attacks across Paris, which came just a day after dozens were killed in an ISIS-claimed bombing in Beiruit.
Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of the blog Syria Comment, says the Paris and Beiruit attacks, coupled with the downing of a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, show Russia and the United States have no choice but to get on the same page about how to prioritize ISIS in Syria.
“The world is frantic about shutting the door to more of this, but they cannot agree on how to do it,” Landis told KGOU’s World Views.
Landis says Russia wants to arm Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces so he can take back territory he’s lost to ISIS, but the United States has said Assad has to step down or be removed from power. Syria’s northern neighbor Turkey is less concerned with ISIS, and more worried about the increasing autonomy of a Kurdish minority.
“Everybody that is involved in Syria has another agenda besides ISIS, which makes it very difficult to get on the same page,” Landis said. “We're going to continue to see a lot of people working across purposes, and the civil war will go on. Because we don't agree. Everybody's going to continue to send in arms, but they aren't going to agree on who should win and who should lose.”
Aside from ISIS and the Assad regime, countless competing militia groups are jockeying for power, but the United States doesn’t like any of them. That means resolution to all these crises will have to be achieved internally.
“We're wishing that moderates could somehow take over, and they're not going to take over. So the real action is going to go on domestically with increased policing, cooperation for policing, surveillance,” Landis said. “The things that break our heart – to see more of this stuff, but that seems to be the way of the modern world.”
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