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France

Fight against Islamic State will not be won without Iran, expert

media French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius attends a meeting with members of the anti-Islamic State coalition in Paris on June 2, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane De Sakutin/Pool

US-led coalition members meeting in Paris on Tuesday to discuss the fight against the Islamic State armed group have pledged their support for an emergency plan adopted by Iraq following the fall of the key city of Ramadi.But a British analyst says a lasting solution will not be found without Iran and Russia.

The talks in the French capital were called to redefine the international community's strategy against the armed group.

Ministers from 20 countries met Tuesday morning to discuss the recent IS gains - including Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria.

Urging the international community to do more, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi said ahead of the talks, the advance of Islamic State militants in Iraq is a "failure" by the world community.

The country is trying to win back control of Ramadi - and unveiled a plan earlier today.

Its seizure by IS militants two weeks ago struck the biggest blow to the coalition since the start of its mission last year in August.

But despite the 4,100 air strikes recorded – the US-led coalition hasn’t won any major cities.

Most experts agree this is not enough but the options remain limited.

“I don’t think it’s possible for the US to send troops“ says Mustafa Alani, a Senior Advisor at the Gulf Research Center.

“The mood in the US is against sending any soldiers on the ground” he adds. “I don’t think it would bring a major shift in the balance of powers on the ground. The Americans were in Iraq, their impact was very limited… and when they left, IS was controlling many parts of Iraq. The only thing they can do is to increase the number of Special Forces there.”

One of the other issues, tackled by Paris’ meeting, is that Iraq and Syria's governments don't control most of their territories.

The solution cannot just be a military one
Ellie Geranmayeh

“Both countries share the fact that there is not inclusive and representative central government nor a security force that represents the different factions of the country,” explains Ellie Geranmayeh, a Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“In the case of Iraq, the solution cannot just be a military one” she outlines. “There needs to be a much more concerted effort to pursue political efforts in Baghdad to have a more meaningful representation of the various minority groups, and most notably the Sunni group.”

France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, agrees with Geranmayeh’s views: he said the coalition strategy could only be effective if all Iraqis believe "the government is inclusive".

“The political dimension of the issue here is the real problem” says Mustafa Alani.

“In Syria, IS is getting their legitimacy from the continuation of the Syrian regime” he explains. “Without doing something to change the political environment in Syria, to put pressure on the regime, IS won’t be made weaker. They are getting legitimacy because they are fighting a dictatorship regime. Without changing this, I don’t think relying solely on military means will bring tangible results.”

The Iraqi Premier also urged the international community to lift sanctions on Russia and Iran so the Middle East country can purchase more weapons.

But Iran and Russia are both supporters of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's regime, although there are some signs that Russia is now starting to anticipate a post-Assad regime. The two countries however, did not participate in Tuesday's meeting in Paris.

"Iran has continuingly been the elephant in the room without being in the room," says Ellie Geranmayeh.

"During today’s meeting in Paris, we’re not finding some of the critical stakeholders, namely Russia, Iran and Syria at the table” she explains. “While there are clear differences between the west and these three countries, problems cannot be solved without their participation."

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