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Middle East: Why anti-IS coalition with Putin is crucial - could he become the man of the hour?

A coalition with Russia in the battle against the "Islamic State" is the order of the day. The presidents of France and the USA, Francois Hollande and Barack Obama, seem to moving in this direction. Germany should also join the initiative, but do it without imagining a partnership with Russia - and without imagining that it will only take a few years for the collapsing Middle East to develop into a prosperous, democratic part of the world as soon as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is ousted from power.

Putin's interest in an anti-IS coalition is not rooted in humanitarian ideals but instead very clearly in geopolitical interests. The Kremlin is, of course, taking advantage of the West's shock over the terrorist attacks in Paris to overcome its international isolation, push through its policies and re-establish itself as a recognized superpower. Russia's diplomatic support of Assad since 2011 is also one of the factors that has fueled the war in Syria.

First of all, the apocalyptic Islamic sect known as "IS" must completely be eradicated - in Syria, in Iraq and in Europe. Achieving such a step requires close military coordination with Russia and putting pressure on IS supporters in the Gulf states. After all, there is no use in lamenting the fact that Moscow has settled itself in Syria with its military bases and become an important player there. The fact that Putin is scoring propaganda points should be irrelevant for now - as long as the West stands firm on its policy regarding Ukraine.

Second, if IS is dismantled, then a conference similar to the one that created the Helsinki Accords must be held to achieve peace and stabilize the entire Middle East. Such a step will likely carry the high price tag of allowing Assad to remain in power of whatever is left of Syria. The alternative would be continued violence, endless suffering and the risk of it all spreading like wildfire to Europe, Africa and Asia.

Read more: Opinion: Why anti-IS coalition with Putin is crucial | Opinion | DW.COM | 19.11.2015

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