World Skeptical About US Bombings in Syria

World Skeptical About US Bombings in SyriaWorld Skeptical About US Bombings in Syria

On Monday evening, the Pentagon announced its airstrikes against militant positions in Syria had begun, marking a watershed moment in the fight against the Islamic State and other militant groups.

The strikes will have a global impact, and first reactions of international newspapers and TV channels have generally portrayed the attacks in a critical way.

Here's some of the reaction from a selection of countries as reported by the Washington Post:

> Britain

Britain is considering to join the US-led coalition which has struck militants in Syria overnight, but the British press has been largely reserved in its response to the attacks. The leftist Guardian newspaper urged the United States to "avoid repeating its past mistakes in Iraq." According to an op-ed published in the paper, "air strikes and drone strikes won't work to effect regional change." Instead, the Obama administration and its allies should focus on political reconciliation and regional cooperation to resolve the roots of the problem. "The [Islamic State]-led insurgency in Iraq and beyond is a fight for natural resources as much as political control," the newspaper concluded, demanding a stronger engagement of regional leaders from the United States.

The Independent took a similar stance, but focused on the possibility that airstrikes could "displace thousands more local residents" amid an already surging number of refugees. An editorial from the BBC offered similar skepticism: Its diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus predicted military action in Syria to have a negative impact on the United States by making the Islamic State fighters even more resolute and radical. Furthermore, the success of American airstrikes on Iraqi soil were not having the desired impact, according to the British broadcaster. "The US air activity has not yet really begun to evict [the Islamic State]."

The Financial Times pointed out, that conducting airstrikes in Syria is also much more delicate than doing so in Iraq where they "are designed to pave the way for local forces to retake territory occupied by the Islamic State." In Syria, however, the US goal is to fight the Islamic State -- as well as to push for a regime change.

> France

France is conducting airstrikes in Iraq alongside the United States, making the country an important part of Obama's anti-Islamic State coalition. On Sept. 11, military analyst Jean Guisnel had already emphasized that it was "important to include Arab countries in the fight against the Islamic State, as well." France's leading centrist newspaper Le Monde reiterated this point this Tuesday in an editorial by criticizing an allegedly prevalent and wrong Washingtonian worldview. "Contrary to the discourse in Washington, the Islamic State militants will not be defeated in airstrikes," the newspaper argued. Victory, however, can only be achieved by Arab countries themselves, according to Le Monde.

> Germany

Many German newspapers – no matter whether they are right-wing, leftist or centrist – were already hugely skeptical of Obama's announcement to use airstrikes in Iraq. The campaign's expansion to Syria has provoked similarly critical reactions.

The conservative Die Welt viewed the strikes as "an act of desperation" and the last remaining tool to prevent boots on the ground. There seemed to be little or no debate on German opinion pages about a potential participating of the German military in the Syrian airstrikes. "The Islamic State is more of an idea. One cannot just bomb the militants, but must fight them ideologically," Die Welt argued.

> Russia

Russia is particularly critical of the strikes. Russia Today, the foreign wing of Moscow's state media, featured an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of the pan-African news wire, who blames the US for having "created ... conditions in which the Islamic State has spread its influence to other regions." Azikiwe views the airstrikes as an escalation of "US and NATO militarism" under the Obama administration.

The Moscow Times stuck to the official interpretation of the Russian Foreign Ministry which portrayed the airstrikes as a violation of international law. The newspaper quoted a Foreign Ministry statement criticizing the absence "of explicit consent from the government of Syria or a corresponding UN Security Council decision."