Global Independent Analytics
Giuseppe Zaccaria
Giuseppe Zaccaria

Location: Italy

Specialization: Balkans, Yugoslavia

Sitting on too many chairs

This is not a rhetorical question.

"France is at war," said French President Francois Hollande on Monday in an extraordinary address to both Houses of Parliament, and called on the United Nations Security Council to rapidly issue a resolution against terrorism. But this statement, which could also become historic, immediately opened an issue that could have a no lesser historical scope: has the war been declared against whom? And above all, with which allies?

At first sight, even a child could say that the war of the French and NATO will fight against the Islamic Caliphate and its allies, but “the devil is always is in the particulars,” and precisely in this latest specification.

Two large NATO countries such as the United States and Great Britain should be considered allies or enemies, or maybe the two things together? As recently as last Monday, a trial held in London proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the English MI6 together with the CIA in 2012, stole large quantities of weapons from the arsenals of Muammar Gaddafi that were delivered directly to Al Qaeda.

And a report just declassified from the Defense Intelligence Agency shows that the possibility of the creation of an Islamic state on the territory between Iraq and Syria was not only not feared at the time, but considered an "important support for opposition fighting the Syrian regime." 

Now, as a politician, vice president John Kerry also may say, as indeed he has done, that "it ran away from our hands" but the wiser judge of London has released the detained Swedish National Gildo Bherlin accused of the same acts of terrorism unofficially done by the secret service of his country.

In this idea of a ​​"joint action" against the throat-cutters of ISIS , there remains a fundamental ambiguity that someone needs to clarify, if one wants to go beyond statements , as warlike as they may appear: are US and England planes ready to bomb the same terrorist factions that they contributed to breed? Or maybe this is the reason why so far their raids were so inconclusive? And if the alliance includes Turkey too - that obviously will do everything to be there - will Erdogan's jets target the same guerrillas who roamed undisturbed in their territory, sometime fighting against Assad and sometimes against the Kurds?

But even leaving aside these details (politics, you know, is the art of changing...) there are a couple of other issues to be solved before the Western fury is unleashed against the Muslim sandals and scimitars: who will be driving the coalition? By invoking Article 5 of the Atlantic Alliance’s treaty, Paris has followed Washington's example after the attacks on the Twin Towers.  But the difference is that after that declaration, George W. Bush began alone to attack Afghanistan and Iraq, and only afterwards he asked allies for some help. And this for a very clear reason: Washington didn’t want the command of the operations depending on NATO’s État Major. 

Almost twenty years later, the Western world is facing a similar dilemma, but made much more complicated by the presence of Moscow’s troops. What to do, then? Continue with two parallel air campaigns, "coordinating" the information, exchanging single plans to prevent mutual trespassing? This solution could work, of course, but not without risks.

The second option is enlarging the aid of NATO Countries to France, creating a ''covenant of good will” that would immediately open the door to an operational alliance with Russian military aviation. But, also in this case, led by whom?.

The real problem, as we see, is just beginning.

Meanwhile, just not to lose time, the Russian Minister of Defence Mr. Shoigu announced that Moscow has deployed its fleet of strategic bombers in order to double the volume of airstrikes on Islamist targets in Syria. The big game starts now.

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