IN THE WAKE OF PARIS ATTACKS, GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES?December 2, 2015
Sometimes one has to wonder at the breathtaking speed at which events in our world are unfolding, and remaking geopolitical patterns that have held since the Cold War. In this respect, it is interesting to contemplate the developments that have occurred since the attacks in Paris, for both France and Germany appear to be, once again, quietly realigning themselves. Consider first, this article shared by Mr. S.D.:
And then this article shared by Mr. T.M.:
In the first article, there are two key statements:
France and Russia have agreed to exchange intelligence data on Islamic State and other terror groups in Syria to increase the effectiveness of their air campaigns in the country as Vladimir Putin received his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, in Moscow.
Putin emphasized the key role played by the Syrian army, which is loyal to Assad, in tackling the terrorists in the country.
“We all believe that it’s impossible to successfully fight the terrorists in Syria without ground operations,” he said.
“And there’s no other force to conduct ground operations against IS ... except the government army of Syria. In this regard, I think that the army of President Assad and he himself are our natural allies in the fight against terrorism,” the Russian leader explained.
To the latter statement, M. Hollande demured, indicating once again that France stands in the American camp, by insisting that eventually Mr. Assad must go. So what is going on here? We'll get back to that high octane speculation of the day in a moment.
For the present, however, consider the second article:
Germany will join the military campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria by deploying Tornado reconnaissance jets, refueling aircraft and a frigate to the region, after a direct appeal from close partner France for Berlin to do more.
The decision to commit military personnel and hardware is a shift for Germany, which has resisted such direct involvement in the conflict. It still has no plans to join France, the United States and Russia in conducting air strikes in Syria.
Berlin expects to commit four to six Tornado jets, provide satellite support, refueling planes and a frigate to help protect the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which the French navy has sent to the eastern Mediterranean to support air strikes in both Syria and Iraq.
German officials said that Merkel saw the bigger German role as a necessary price to pay in exchange for Hollande's continued support in the refugee crisis.
With all this in mind, let's do our high octane speculation. Firstly, as noted, the German and French governments are both facing increasing internal opposition to their largely failed open borders policy. What the Franco-German military cooperation in Syria suggests is therefore that Paris and Berlin are coordinating - for the moment covertly - on domestic policy issues, which one may expect will begin to move toward a more rational policy regarding the refugee situation. Putting that bluntly, one may expect Paris and Berlin to move to some degree in the direction of the popular opposition to their refugee policies, but only partially. Whether this will succeed in silencing opposition remains to be seen, but one doubts it.
More importantly, one notes the role of the German navy in providing cover and support to the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which presages the first such military cooperation in an active operation betweenn the two countries, and a necessary step on the way to the creation of an integrated European military, which, as everyone knows, will largely be a Franco-German affair, with Paris and Berlin calling the shots. Thus, in a sense, the Syrian crisis is being used by both countries as a crisis of opportunity in this respect. The German decision to "provide satellite support" to the French operations also betokens a fuirther integration of French and German space-based capabilties, that would be needed in any such integrated EU military.
So what about Russia's and France's decision to share intelligence? and M. Hollande's continuing adherence to Washington's line that Assad must go? And Mr. Putin's calm assurance that one cannot fight IS without "ground operations?" I strongly suspect that what all this might miean for future developments is the following: Germany and France are positioning themselves very carefully, and one might add, in a somewhat byzantine fashion, between Washington and Moscow, and this means that they - and in particular France - might not be opposed to joint on the ground operations with the Russians in Syria. The end result of this manuevering would and will be to place Turkey in the position of being odd-man-out, and it would give the European powers much more say in the determinations of any post-Assad government as might emerge in Syria.
And one would be ill-advised to assume that Paris or Berlin will simply submit to Washington's wishes in that respect. To put it country simple, it appears that Mr. Putin is being successful, at least for the moment, in putting together his own version of an anti-terror coalition, which effectively means an anti-Suni terror coalition. This has far-reaching geopolitical significance, for Russia remains firmly behind Iran, and Germany and France, of course, have their own economic ties to the Shia nation, and helped broker the recent deal between Washington and Tehran.
See you on the flip side...