United States President Barack Obama was very critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. President Obama believes that both Putin and Assad have flouted international conventions, throwing Syria into a bloody civil war which has seen millions of refugees fleeing the country.
According to CNN, Obama said, “We’re told that such retrenchment is required to beat back disorder, that it’s the only way to stamp out terrorism and prevent foreign meddling. In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children because the alternative is surely worse”.
“When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs, it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all. We cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated. If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today.”
Despite Obama’s scolding speech at the United Nations General Assembly, the United States President reluctantly offered an olive branch to Russia and Syria. The destruction of their common enemy, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has become the U.S. government’s most important goal in Syria and ultimately in the Middle East. It is, however, not worth the risk of sending U.S. troops into the Middle East given their excursions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The aim to destroy ISIS has brought Obama and Putin back in the same room. The United States and Russia have been at odds since Putin led rebels annexed Crimea. Obama’s hesitance to put significant boots on the ground is a sign that the United States has an exit strategy for the Middle East. The U.S. President hopes to rally an alliance with major players within the region, but he knows full well of his setbacks in Syria.
In his address at the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama did not offer a solution but rather a coalition, and with Russia ready to fill in. Vladimir Putin has not so quietly assisted Assad in his efforts in the Syrian civil war and has condemned the U.S. for its role in destabilizing the region, especially with a NATO-led toppling of Ghaddfi in Libya.
As The New York Times reported, Russia has confirmed that they have an intelligence sharing agreement with Syria, Iran and Iraq to combat ISIS. Even Iraq has created an alliance with Russia to defeat ISIS. As Putin has placed his bet on Assad, he is doubling down on propping up his ally, a position made easier with the United States’ hesitance fight on two fronts. At the United Nations General Assembly, Putin pitched a broad international coalition against terrorism harkening back to the days of the Allied forces versus the Axis.
As stated in The Atlantic Vladimir Putin said, “We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face-to-face.”
“We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and Kurd militia are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria.”
Like two heavyweight boxers throwing jabs, neither is willing to let their guard down. As Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin get set to have a potentially tense meeting later today at the United Nations General Assembly, it seems that Russia’s strategy to prop Assad is the United States solution for a more collaborative effort to defeat ISIS.
[Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]