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Here’s what we know about the growing international fight against ISIS

In the fight against ISIS, France has stepped up airstrikes in Syria since the terror attacks in Paris, shortly after the U.K. authorized its own airstrikes, and Germany has voted to support the military campaign against the group. But what effect will the bolstered efforts have? Geoff Dyer of the Financial Times joins Hari Sreenivasan from Washington D.C.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:

    We turn now to the fight against is abroad. France has stepped up its air strikes in Syria since the terror attacks in Paris. Yesterday, German lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to send reconnaissance jets, and a tanker plane and a warship into the fight. This follows Wednesday's vote in the U.K. to authorize airstrikes against the group.

    But what kind of effect will these efforts have?

    Geoff Dyer of "The Financial Times" joins us now from Washington, D.C.

    So, the American warplanes are still doing the bulk of the bombing, right?

  • GEOFF DYER, THE FINANCIAL TIMES:

    That's still the case, but the important thing that happened this week is the main European powers are very much on side with the effort to go after ISIS in Syria, not just in Iraq but in Syria as well. So, you had the French that was a few weeks ago coming in very big after the Paris attacks, the Germans, and then now, the British this week.

    And, politically, that is important for the administration as it tries to make the case for escalating its campaign in Syria. It's very good to have European allies on site. But in the actual day-to-day practical terms it's not going to make a huge amount of difference. The British only will bring eight new planes into the campaign. So, still, the Americans are still going to be doing the bulk of the airstrikes, the bulk of the intelligence, the bulk of the reconnaissance.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    None of these countries has committed to putting boots on the ground, right?

  • GEOFF DYER:

    They very much not. The British and the French have very specifically said that's not what they're going to do, and this administration has said it doesn't want to put boots on the ground in Syria as well, other than a few special operations forces. You are seeing some of the Republican candidates talking about a much bigger U.S. presence on the ground but for the time being, that's very much not on the agenda.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Germany and France also announced they are going to speed up their plans to block funds flowing to ISIS. Why didn't they do that sooner?

  • GEOFF DYER:

    That's a very good question. And I think people asking — are absolutely asking that very much since the Paris attacks. That's one of the questions, especially as the U.S. has gone more aggressively after ISIS' oil infrastructure over the last month. People are asking, why didn't they do that earlier?

    But I think what we are seeing is a much greater urgency amongst all these countries and trying to intensify all the different aspects of the way it is going after ISIS.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Is there kind of a longer term plan to try to build more partners into this coalition or are they satisfied with who they have now?

  • GEOFF DYER:

    I think the thing that very much frustrating the administration is the help is been getting from some of its regional allies on this front. If you remember, when airstrikes in Iraq and Syria first started over a year ago, you had the Saudis and Emiratis and some other regional allies very publicly present taking part in airstrikes.

    In the last few months, particularly as they have been bogged down in their own campaign in Yemen, they haven't been as present. I think what they like is much more support from those countries and they're working very hard with Turkey. The administration has publicly called out Turkey asking Turkey to do more to close off the one section of the border between Syria and Turkey where ISIS still has a significant presence.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So, we have talked a lot about the military element of it. What about the diplomatic side?

  • GEOFF DYER:

    Well, the Vienna diplomatic process as it's become called is gathering a certain amount of momentum. There's going to be another meeting in two weeks' time in New York. Various countries have talked about timetable for elections. They're trying to put in place plans for ceasefires.

    But the real big issue, the really difficult one that they have the punted on for the time being is what happens to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. The Russians are much more — the Americans would like to see him leave — the Russians are on the fence. They haven't really stated exactly what they would like to see happen. That's the really difficult issue that has to be crunched out before there can be any real political resolution

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. Geoff Dyer of "The Financial Times" joining us from Washington — thanks so much.

  • GEOFF DYER:

    My pleasure.

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