Syria Is Facing Increased Bombing Raids

Syria is facing increased bombing raids as France reacts to the Paris attacks. Launching warplanes from The United Arab Emeritus and Jordan, the French government has stepped up their efforts in combating ISIS. The World Post reports that the French Defense Ministry has confirmed that 10 fighter jets dropped approximately 20 bombs. Targets included munitions depots, as well as training camps located in Raqqa. Raqqa has long been a stronghold for the Islamic State.

According to The World Post, the death toll from the Friday, Nov. 13, Paris attacks has risen to 132, as the G20 summit concludes in Turkey. The report also stated that France had received credible intelligence going back as far as September 2014. Included in the data were warnings of potential ISIS attacks on Paris, as well as other targets throughout France.

France has had a long-standing relationship with nations close to Syria. Specifically, France has economic ties to Saudi Arabia, which appears to have shaped French foreign policy in the region. The Nation explains that this partnership has complicated the participation of France in the Syrian conflict. French President Francois Hollande is calling the Paris attacks an act of war. Saudi interest in the region, however, conflicts with French and U.S. interests.

In Syria, the priority of Saudi Arabia is to replace the Baath government of Bashar al-Assad with a model that mirrors the Saudi government. Saudi opposition toward Assad stems from his government being heavily aligned with Iran. The Nation reports that the U.S. and France have been arming the Saudis with an expectation they would join the campaign against ISIS. Instead, they have directed their attention toward the Houthis in Yemen, which they view as a more imminent threat.

While world leaders have promised to respond to the Paris attacks with force, Syria is facing increased bombing raids. The Wall Street Journal reports that the attacks in Paris created a more unified tone as well as a greater sense of urgency from the international community. The U.S. has pledged to expand the sharing of intelligence while Russia has made preparations to provide troops to go along with their current air commitments

Moving forward, The Wall Street Journal reports, France will continue to focus on targets that will disrupt the ability of ISIS to sell oil, thus cutting off their monetary supply. As a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), France is within their right to invoke the collective defense provisions of the treaty. Central to the provision is that an attack on any members of NATO is considered a direct attack on all members. In an official statement from Paris, The Wall Street Journal was informed France would not be invoking any of the provisions outlined in the treaty.

The events in Paris have complicated an already convoluted situation. Several questions remain as world leaders continue to work towards a possible peace settlement to end the Syrian conflict. The Economist has pointed out variables, which are slowing the peace process. Russian involvement, prior to the downing of their airliner, was directed toward groups fighting against the Assad regime. Russia has also prioritized protecting their naval base at Tartus on the Mediterranean. The groups targeted by Russia are, in fact, the same groups receiving aid and intelligence from the U.S.

Questions remain regarding whether Bashar al-Assad will continue his role as leader of Syria. The Economist also reported that initially, the U.S. and their allies have moved away from the idea of his removal. Acceptance of his limited role in transitioning Syria to an alternate government structure is likely. However, the U.S. and their allies would not be receptive to Assad remaining in power. Where the U.S. views Assad as being the impetus behind sectarian, as well as radical ideas, both Russia and Iran believe he is a vital piece to keeping ISIS under control.

Syria is facing increased bombing raids, however, world leaders continue efforts to end the fighting. As each nation participating in the conflict sees its interests satisfied, peace becomes more of a possibility. The Economist has reported that while nations cling to their own interests in the region that it is ISIS, which has opened a more unified dialog. ISIS is viewed as a threat to nations on both sides of the conflict, as well those nations on the periphery.

By Garrett Sayers
Edited by Leigh Haugh

The World Post: France Bombs ISIS Headquarters In Syria
The Nation: France Should Stop Listening to Saudi Arabia on Syria
The Wall Street Journal: World Leaders Pledge Strong Response to Paris Attacks
The Economist: After Paris, Syria’s Peace Process Limps On
Image Courtesy of Jan Jacobsen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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