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Global Anti-Terror Alliance Unlikely Given Inability to Agree on Targets

© Sputnik / Andrey Chapligin / Go to the mediabank2016 Defenders of Friendship Russian-Egyptian counter terrorism exercise
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Russia's proposal to establish a global coalition to counter terrorism is unlikely to come to fruition considering potential members cannot even agree on which groups to target, analysts told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Russia released an updated foreign policy concept document last week, part of which called for the formation of an international alliance to fight terrorism that is based on a solid legal foundation free of political maneuvering and double standards.

"Because there is so much disagreement on who are terrorists and different interests, there can't be a large formal coalition like the one the Kremlin is advocating," Center for Global Policy Director of Political Affairs Kamran Bokhari said.

Countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, for example, will disagree on who should be targeted, Bokhari, who is also a Fellow at the George Washington University Program on Extremism, explained.

"Iran supports Hezbollah. Hezbollah has been engaged in terrorist activities and have become members of parliament," Bokhari suggested. "They have kept one foot in the militancy camp and another in mainstream politics."

The Saudis, Israel and the United States, however, consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization, as they should, Bokhari claimed.

Russia and the United States, Bokhari continued, have their differences, but also share a common enemy in Islamist extremism.

"You can’t have a coalition… but what you do have is quiet alignment on a case-by-case basis," Bokhari noted.

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The baggage that comes with Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, Bokhari said, makes it complicated for Washington to join a formal alliance with Moscow.

"There is a certain element of truth to the whole accusation from Washington that Russia isn’t actually striking at ISIS [Islamic State] more than necessary. They are really going after the rebels," Bokhari claimed. "The United States and Russia are unlikely to do joint operations against ISIS," Bokhari added.

Bokhari admitted that, this goes back to differences of opinion on the definition of a terrorist.

The United States and Russia already have an alliance of sorts in Syria, Bokhari argued, because both sides agree that toppling Assad would be catastrophic.

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If the United States puts its foot down, it could easily tell Russia to halt its bombing campaign in Syria, Bokhari added, but Washington does not want to "because the interests converge regardless of the window dressing and the atmospherics."

Hence, Russia’s talk about forming an anti-terror coalition and making it an actual security doctrine is more about public relations because, in fact, the whole thing is already happening in places like Syria, Bokhari concluded.

Brookings Institution Foreign Policy Program Research Director Michael O’Hanlon told Sputnik that Russia’s idea to form an anti-terror alliance is not bad, but cannot be taken too seriously given the stark differences between Moscow and Washington with respect to how to define and target terrorists.

"As for Russia’s strategy, I think it’s valid in one sense, but wishful thinking in another, because we have had such fundamental differences with them over how to define certain terrorists," O’Hanlon suggested.

The United States and Russia, O’Hanlon claimed, also cannot agree on what tactics to employ and how high a priority to place on sparing innocent civilians while executing counterterrorism strikes.

Russia’s foreign policy concept says the international anti-terrorist coalition must be based on a solid legal foundation free of political maneuvering and double-standard policies which also respects the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.

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