Putin and Obama differ on Syria but look for solutions

RSTV Bureau

Obama-UNGA-sept-2015Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama presented starkly varying views on the current Syrian crisis post the emergence of terror syndicate Islamic State (IS), and the stability in the Middle Eastern region. Even as their opinions competed with each other, the two leaders stressed on how to solve the crisis and called for a broader cooperation. The instability in the Middle East due to IS has also led to a massive migrant crisis in Europe, off late.

“We must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo,” US President Obama said at the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday indirectly accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the current IS crisis, which is only expanding.

In his address, Barack Obama even went on to say that the US is willing to work with Russia as well as Iran to achieve stability in the area.

“The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict,” said Obama.

Soon after Obama’s address, Russian President Vladimir Putin took to the centre stage at the UNGA putting forth Russia’s vision on how to solve the Syrian crisis and fight against Islamic State. Strongly backing Assad-led Syrian government, Mr. Putin called on a broad anti-terrorism coalition that would help fight against Islamic State (IS).

“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,” Vladimir Putin said.

Putin-UNGA-sept-2015“We think about what and how we could additionally support Syrian army in its fight with the terrorists. I want to stress that the fight with the terrorists must happen in parallel with the political process inside Syria itself,” Putin added.

The two countries have shared differences over the ways to address the Syrian crisis for some time now. US has been advocating a “managed transition” to remove Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad from power, a preposition not shared by Russia – Assad’s strongest ally. The latter has argued that Assad’s military is the most capable force for fighting the IS and therefore needs to be strengthened.

Despite Obama’s staunch opposition to Assad remaining in power, the US has struggled to succeed in its bid to push him from power. Russia, on the other hand, has backed and shielded Assad from UN sanctions and it continues to provide the Syrian government with weapons.

Obama and Putin are scheduled to meet later in the day for bilateral talks where the two are expected to hold talks on Syria and the current crisis due to IS.

(With inputs from the PTI)