The United States needs to work with Russia to end the Syrian conflict, destroy the Islamic State and resolve the refugee crisis that is threatening the European Union, former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman told Sputnik.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama have met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Monday to discuss strengthening anti-terrorism cooperation and creating joint mechanisms.
“The stakes are such that the United States can no longer afford to spurn opportunities to work with Russia to excise the ‘Islamic State’ from Syria and Iraq, and restore enough order there to staunch the flow of refugees,” Freeman told Sputnik on Tuesday.
He praised Russia’s new policy on Syria announced by President Putin at the UN General Assembly.
“Mr. Putin is right… The United States is going to have to choose between its ideological antipathy to [Syrian] President [Bashar] Assad and its interests in combating Islamist extremism and supporting the cohesion of the European Union.”
Some 250,000 people have been killed since the Syrian civil war began four years ago with 11 million people displaced from their homes.
Mounting concern about the Islamic State, the former ambassador pointed out, has caused Iraq to cooperate with Iran, Russia and Syria in a joint command and coordinate military operations against it.
“The United States must now find a way to cooperate with this joint command,” Freeman explained, if Washington wants to continue supporting the Iraqi military against the Islamist extremists who menace it.
The anarchy in Syria, and the growth of the Islamic State are both consequences of the disintegration of Iraqi society catalyzed by the US invasion in 2003, he argued.
“The severe strains that overwhelming refugee flows are placing on the unity, peace, and stability of Europe are the latest such effect,” Freeman said. “The strife in Syria and Iraq must be brought to an end.”
The strife the United States helped kindle in Syria and Iraq continues to have unforeseen knock-on effects in a widening area, the veteran envoy concluded.
During his UN speech on Monday, Putin called for cooperation between global and regional powers to counter ISIL. The statement came after Moscow confirmed on Sunday it had agreed to coordinate anti-terrorist efforts with Iraq, Iran and Syria.