THE BLOG

The Only Way Forward in Syria Is a Grand Coalition of Major Western Powers

17/11/2015 12:00 GMT | Updated 17/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Less than a year on from the Charlie Hebdo attacks, France has once again become the scene of the latest terror attacks perpetrated by Islamic State, resulting in President Hollande declaring that his country was now "at war".

And the determined rhetoric from western leaders against working with Vladimir Putin and President Assad in the fight against the fundamentalist caliphate - which views Western democracy as its kryptonite - has taken a sea change, melting away in the face of the extreme violence of Friday.

Prime Minister David Cameron has finally said he would be "prepared to make compromises" in order to work with Russia to tackle the terror group, and admitted, "we'd be safer in Britain if we destroyed ISIS."

Ahead of the meeting in Turkey, President Putin said that countries fighting IS, "need to - and should have a long time ago - join[ed] forces in the fight against this evil."

For months now it has been clear that the only way forward was to join the major powers fighting IS together in a grand coalition and that is what I have been calling for.

I find it very sad that it has taken a tragedy like the Paris attacks for Western leaders to put aside the animosity of the second half of the twentieth century and to meet with other leaders to finally discuss defeating Islamic State.

Back in October, I warned there was a huge risk that the militant Islamic group could make headway while the west were busy cutting their noses to spite their face.

It was at this time that the Russian leader offered to share ISIS target coordinates with the West, which was met with cool indifference by Washington. US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter even described Russia's actions in Syria as "illogical" and said they would "flame extremism" in the country.

"By taking the side of Assad they inflame the civil war - and therefore extremism - and prolong the suffering of the Syrian people," he said.

Russian security services have this morning announced that it was a bomb that brought down the commercial airliner travelling from Egypt, which cost the lives of everyone on board.

But France have also suffered deeply from the hatred Islamic State bears towards anyone which doesn't want to join its side in continuing this centuries old barbaric religious war.

While the West has been busy arguing amongst themselves, the terrorists have shown they do not differentiate between us: one infidel country is the same as all the others.

The lax, naive policy of the EU in allowing anyone who claimed to be fleeing Syria into the Schengen area has left its leaders with blood on their hands: They openly ignored Islamic State's boast that they would "flood" the continent with jihadi fighters.

The politics of the Cold War was a blip in the history of global tensions, but it seems some civil servants and military advisors are stuck there. Time and warfare have moved on. We are now living in the era of asymmetric warfare, with non-state actors presenting challenges to security unheard of 20 years ago and making land grabs across large swaths of territory in the Middle East.

We don't have to like Putin to realise that a united front against people who rape children and behead Christians is the best idea for a safer world. We joined forces with Stalin to defeat Hitler because he was an immediate threat and that pragmatic attitude is what we need now.

Yes, I believe that Assad should be replaced as the Syrian head of state, however, that is only going to come about through negotiation between his supporters and those who wish to see him replaced. I personally think that given a way out, it's something he will grab with both hands.

But the bigger focus must be defeating Islamic State.

Mike Hookem is UKIP's defence spokesman and MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. He spent eight years as a Commando engineer and now sits on the European Parliament's defence and security committee