Trump Was Right? Obama Admits US Must Partner With Russia To Beat ISIS

Well this is a little awkward. Following John Kerry’s “seeking cooperation” apology tour to Moscow, President Obama appears to be following the path that Donald Trump has suggested as reports, Obama said Thursday at the Pentagon that The United States must try to broker a deal with Russia to coordinate military operations in Syria and drive the Islamic State group out of that country.

Obama was at The Pentagon to meet with his national security advisers to discuss ongoing strategies in the campaign against the Islamic State group. At a news conference that followed, he said no tactic used by the terrorists will stop the United States from fighting them on every front across the globe.

“We’ll keep working with allies and partners to go after [the Islamic State group] wherever it tries to spread,” the president said.

One partner could be Russia… (via

For the last month, the United States and Russia have been negotiating terms that would have their militaries join forces in Syria against the Nusra Front, a formerly al-Qaida-affiliated group targeted by Russian and Syrian government warplanes.

Under the agreement, the United States would join the fight against the Nusra Front and Russia would adhere to the May 2016 Aleppo ceasefire they have often violated.

Obama said Thursday that the escalation of hostilities in and around Aleppo make the negotiations with Russia more difficult, but still necessary.

“I’m not confident we can trust the Russians and Vladimir Putin,” the president told reporters. “Which is why we have to test whether we can get an actual cessation of hostilities …. we go into this without any blinders on.”

In the fight against the Islamic State, U.S.-backed Iraqi and Syrian forces have recaptured significant portions of their countries from the terrorist group, attempting to isolate them in their strongholds of Mosul and Raqqa. But at the same time, the Islamic State and militants affiliated with the terrorist group have executed multiple high-profile attacks in western Europe and the United States.

“In terms of the threat that [the Islamic State group] poses to the homeland, I think it is serious,” Obama said. “The possibility of either a lone actor or a small cell carrying out an attack that kills people is real.”

In response, Obama said his administration has ramped up U.S. efforts, including sensitive negotiations with Russia to potentially coordinate a strategy to speed the defeat of the Islamic State group in Syria.

But the United States has had no formal military relations with Russia since its takeover of Crimea in 2014. Obama said Thursday that negotiations are critical in achieving a political solution in Syria, and speed the demise of the Islamic State group there.

“We have to try,” he said. “The alternative is the perpetuation of civil war.”

But as we noted previously, this is not going down well at home as many US-based diplomats are furious at this unexpected olive branch: “It isn’t clear why the secretary of state thinks he can enlist the Russians to support the administration’s goals in Syria,” said one U.S. intelligence official quoted by Reuters. Other U.S. intelligence officers are incensed by the administration’s continued overtures to Russia, in part because they say the Russians knew that two rebel camps they bombed this week were far from any Islamic State fighters and housed U.S.-backed rebels or their families.

But the biggest concession by the US would be the admission that Assad can remain in power. Recall that the entire Syrian war, and the creation of ISIS in the first place, were a pretext to overthrow the Syrian president. However, nobody in the US predicted the stern Russian response, which has preserved Assad’s power for the past three years.

“The Russians want a settlement that would keep (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or some replacement acceptable to them in power,” said a defense official, who like others who discussed the schism in the administration agreed to do so only on condition of anonymity.

“The president has said that Assad has got to go, and our allies, especially the Saudis, hold that view very strongly. In fact, they keep asking us why we’re cozying up to Moscow.”Assad said in an interview broadcast on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has never talked to him about leaving power, despite pressure from Washington for Assad to step down.

Finally, the biggest question is just why did the US expend so much military power and resources over a mission that has led to a dead-end.

“I think quite frankly (Kerry’s) visit is a microcosm of the confusion about U.S. policy towards Russia,” said Heather Conley, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington. “It’s a lot of political capital to send the secretary of state if you don’t have a clear objective of what you want to accomplish,” she told Reuters.