As you can read at the following articles from the Los Angeles Times, the French are asking the Americans to cooperate with Russia in Syria against ISIS. According to the article the Americans require that the Russians commit to let the Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad to go before there is an alliance between US and Russia against ISIS in Syria.
What the Americans are really asking from the Russians is that they distance themselves from the Iranians in Syria. The Iranians and the Russians are already competing for influence at the Syrian coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, which can send to Europe the Iranian oil and gas. But the Russians are a bigger fish than the Iranians. The Iranians mainly use Russian weapons. If the Russians decide to let Assad go they will hurt their relations with the Iranians, and they will be able to guarantee to the Turks and the Arabs of the Persian Gulf that the Iranian oil and gas will not reach Europe through Syria.
Russia could be a credible guarantor for Turkey and the Arabs, because the Arabs and the Turks know that the Iranian oil and gas would also hurt the Russians if it was to reach Europe. The Russian state own giants are mainly exporting to Europe. But if the Russians decide to block Iran in Syria, the Iranians might send their oil and gas to Europe through Turkey to retaliate, while for the Iranians the priority is to send them to China through the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor which is promoted by China.
Therefore, even though I don’t know what will happen to the distant future, for the near future the Russians can ask the Iranians to forget the European markets, and there is a high chance that the Iranians will do it. And if the Russians are in good terms with the Iranians, and at some point the Iranians decide to send oil and gas to Europe through Syria, the Russians could hope that the Iranians will prefer Russian over Western companies. Actually the plan was that Gazprom would construct the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which was stopped by the Turkish and Arab attacks in Syria and Iraq. See “Who is Responsible for the War and the Immigrants”.
But if the Russians decide to let Assad go, and to be more accurate if the Russians agree to block the Iranians in Syria, the United States could fight with them ISIS,. Because if the Turks and the Arabs of the Persian Gulf knew that Syria was not under Iranian influence they would be open to discussions, and they could restrain the Islamists militants they support in Syria.
But it is very difficult for the United States to cooperate with Russia against ISIS if Russia does not accept to distance herself from Iran. Because under such a scenario it would be like the Americans were aligning themselves with the Russians against Turkey. The Americans target ISIS to support the Kurds of Syria, but the fight between ISIS and the Kurds is a problem between USA and Turkey. Russia is not really involved in the competition between Turkey and the US over the Kurds of Syria and ISIS.
However if the Americans were to cooperate with Russia against ISIS, before any commitment on Assad, there would be an American-Russian alliance against Turkey. Under such a scenario the Americans would face the danger of pushing Turkey in Russia’s arms, even though Turkey and Russia are natural competitors. The same thing happened with Russia and Iran, two natural competitors, who became allies due to the confrontation between the US and Iran. And the Americans need Turkey.
It is very difficult to find a solution in Syria. If the Russians and the Americans cooperate against ISIS without the Russians distancing themselves from Iran, the relations of the United States with the Turks and the Arabs will be hurt. On the other hand if the Russians and the Americans cooperate against ISIS with Russia distancing herself from Iran in Syria, the Russo-Iranian relations will be hurt. There is a very difficult situation in Syria.
The French ask the Americans to cooperate with the Russians in Syria, but things are much easier in Syria. The French have very problematic relations with Turkey, and it is a lot easier for them to target ISIS. Moreover if they target ISIS their Saudi allies would not be very unhappy, because the Saudis and the Turks jointly fight Bashar al Assad in Syria, but they also fight each other. The Turks are buying oil from the oilfields controlled by ISIS in Iraq, and some of this oil is also exported from the Turkish port of Ceyhan, and that is not good for the Saudis. Also the French are the first ones to ask for Assad to go, therefore their Arab allies should not be disappointed.
In addition Tayip Erdogan, Turkey’s Islamist President, wants Turkey to be the leader of the Sunni Islamic World, a role played by Saudi Arabia until the Islamists took control of Turkey in 2003. Tayip Erdogan is for Saudi Arabia an Islamist version of Gamal Nasser. See “ The Intra-Arab War for Oil : 1950-1970”.
For the Los Angeles Times articles see:
“France seeks U.S.-Russia unity in coalition against Islamic State”, November 2015
Map 3 Oil Fields (black) and Natural Gas Fields (red)