Read the original text at 112.ua.
On the eve of the NATO summit in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the Alliance's participation in air operations against ISIS, together with an international coalition led by the United States in Syria and Iraq. He stressed that NATO supports military operations in the Middle East with the help of reconnaissance aircraft, but refrains from participating in hostilities. In his view, the alliance's goal is to increase security in the airspace and to defeat ISIS "once and for all."
Nominal participation in the US interests
By and large, Jens Stoltenberg did not sound anything new. He only confirmed that NATO is officially participating in the fight against ISIS along with the United States and some Middle Eastern countries. Arrangements for cooperation between NATO and the anti-terrorist coalition were reached in July 2016, at the Warsaw summit. In October last year, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) supported the air forces coalition. The instructors of NATO member countries are training Iraqi officers in Jordan for armed struggle against ISIS. Individual NATO member countries have long been members of the anti-terrorist coalition and are taking part in the armed struggle against ISIS without the aegis of the alliance. In addition to the US Air Force, Canada, Great Britain, France, and Turkey are participating in military operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Contributions to the fight against terrorism in Iraq are made by Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland, Norway, and Portugal.
Stoltenberg's statement on NATO's direct involvement in the fight against ISIS has purely political importance in the interests of the United States. The official participation of NATO, even nominal, in the Syrian conflict symbolizes the solidarity of Europe with the US position in the Middle East, as well as the unity of the positions of the western countries, on both sides of the Atlantic and secular states of the Persian Gulf. Fight against ISIS is joined by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan.
NATO's participation in military operations against ISIS is necessary for the White House to prevent the international community from accusing the US of unilateral actions aimed at redrawing the political map of the Middle East. In 2003, the US military operation "Iraqi Freedom" on overthrowin the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, under the pretext of searching for biological weapons, was not supported by NATO, and then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac publicly condemned Washington's actions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, after meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, stressed that Russia stands for collective action and does not accept any "mésalliances." Thanks to NATO support, the antiterrorist coalition is perceived not as a club of US military partners in the form of oil monarchies and some Western countries, but as a broad coalition.
After the anti-terrorist coalition led by the US was supported by NATO, Russia and Iran look like an isolated duo that unsuccessfully tries to create the appearance of anti-terrorist activities in Syria. Russia and Iran are taking part in the Syrian conflict on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime against the opposition, under the sauce of fighting against ISIS. Also, both countries are trying to put post-conflict development in Syria under their control. Negotiations in Astana with the participation of Russia, Turkey, Iran, and the regime of President Bashar Assad without the participation of the West and other Middle Eastern countries are an example.
It seems that the most developed countries of the world now support the US position on Syria, including holding the elections and the replacement of Bashar Assad by a politician who is ready to join the fight against the ISIS under the star-striped flag. The statement of Jens Stoltenberg reinforces the US diplomatic positions in the negotiations with Russia. US President Donald Trump has more grounds for pressure on the Russian leadership and the convictions of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to give up support for Bashar Assad, flirting with Iran and join the anti-terrorist coalition against ISIS, following NATO's example.
Compensation for US expenditures on NATO maintenance
Official NATO support of the anti-terrorist coalition led by the US against ISIS is a kind of Europeans’ compensation for excessive spending from the US budget aimed at strengthening security in Europe. During his campaign, Donald Trump stated that NATO was a useless organization, which the United States was too costly to finance. The United States covers about 50% of NATO's spending from its budget. In 2015, the share of US investments in the alliance's budget ($ 950 billion) was $ 650 billion. US During meetings with European partners, Vice President Michael Pence and Secretary of Defense James Mattis emphasized the advisability of increasing defense spending to 2% of GDP per year in order to unload the US budget. This caused criticism from European countries. There were versions that the US would stop participating in Operation Atlantic Decisiveness to strengthen NATO's military presence at the borders with Russia. The options for creating a military bloc in the EU as an alternative to NATO began to be worked out.
It is possible that NATO support of the actions of the US anti-terrorist coalition in the Middle East is a condition for Europeans, in the event of which Pentagon would close its eyes to the disproportion in the alliance financing and would continue to guarantee European security. Donald Trump continued the policy of Barack Obama on the deployment of American armed contingents in the countries bordering the Russian Federation in order to contain the Kremlin's aggressive ambitions. The US did not stop financing NATO. Perhaps, Donald Trump decided to use NATO as a foreign policy tool of the United States. Loud statements about the reluctance to allocate large sums to finance NATO were made in order to make the European countries more compliant with the US position in the field of security.
The US do not benefit from the situation, when EU creates its own military bloc and isolates from NATO. Since the establishment of the alliance in 1949, NATO remains a platform for communication and coordination of actions between the United States and European countries on military-political issues. Thanks to NATO, the US is involved into the European affairs. The relevance of NATO would increase after the withdrawal of the UK from the EU - the closest US ally in the world. Republicans in relations with NATO operate on the principle of "service for service." In his statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg added that the alliance intends to strengthen cooperation with the EU in the field of cybersecurity and maritime security. In exchange for US support in Syria and Iraq, Americans are ready to assist European countries in preventing hacker attacks of Russia and the influx of refugees across the Mediterranean.
Interests of the Europeans
After the terrorist attack in Manchester (Great Britain), organized by an Islamic extremist from Libya, Europe thinks about measures to prevent new terrorist attacks. Europeans are unhappy with the activities of their governments in the field of security. Periodically, terrorist attacks happen everywhere: in Paris, in Berlin, and in Brussels. This is a point of Eurosceptics speculations, who represent opposition to the current governments and who support the radical tightening of the migration regime in the EU. In order to reduce the degree of discontent of their citizens and to discredit Eurosceptics, European politicians would distract the society with slogans about combating Islamic extremism in its lair.
European governments need to remove the pretext for criticism from the lips of Eurosceptics. Eurosceptics speculate on the fact that the current governments do not make efforts to combat terrorism. French President Emmanuel Macron, during his election campaign, supported the coalition air strikes against the positions of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. While Euroskeptics, like the leader of the French National Front Party, Marin Le Pen, talk about the threat of Islamic extremism for Europe, the current authorities are directly involved in the fight against terrorism under the aegis of NATO. Apparently, Jens Stoltenberg wanted to tell this the ordinary Europeans.