In dueling speeches directed to the UN General Assembly, (UNGA) US president Barack Obama branded the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad a “child-killing tyrant” whilst Russian president Vladimir Putin stated that he doesn’t think it is the “responsibility of western nations to choose the leadership of another country.”
Recent weeks have seen western aggression in Syria escalate with the news that French air forces have carried out air strikes in the war torn country. Earlier this week the office of the French President confirmed that the country had carried out its first strikes against ISIS in Syria, expanding it’s aerial campaign from Iraq. Speaking from the sidelines at the UNGA, French president Francois Hollande described Islamic State [IS] as “a threat to our country” whilst also telling journalists “Bashar al-Assad is the main person at fault, the future of Syria cannot happen with Bashar al-Assad.”
Unquestionably the Syrian crisis remains the biggest stumbling point to western and Russian foreign relations. Although Putin does believe that the presence of IS in Syria is a genuine threat, he does not agree with the western foreign policy theory that Assad is the main protagonist. Speaking at the UNGA Putin declared that “It is an enormous mistake to reject the Syrian troops who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face.” Putin was speaking on the back of Obama’s speech, which suggested that Assad should be replaced by a new leader.
The two leaders gave differing view points on numerous topics from Ukraine to Libya with Putin saying that “Instead of democracy and progress [in Libya] – violence, poverty and social catastrophe.” To sum up, Putin wants western powers to assist in his backing of Assad rather than backing Syrian rebels [Syrian free army] in order to bring down the growing IS threat in the area.
Essentially, Putin sees the strategy of fighting alongside Assad against IS as considerably more feasible than creating two enemies in the region and Western nations are slowly starting to accept Putin’s idea. A spokesman for the UK Prime Minister stated that David Cameron is ready to work with Putin to defeat IS even if that means keeping Assad in power for the short term. Public opinion on British aggression in middle eastern countries is at an all time low after the disasters of the conflicts in Iraq and Libya. Both countries and there people have been left in turmoil on the back of western aggression.
If the past tells us anything it is that western aggression and ‘democracy’ in middle eastern countries has failed; the people of Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Egypt and Libya have all experienced what western democracy and aggression feels like and none of them will tell you that it has been pleasant. The French have started. The Australians are in on it. The British have done so and will do more and the Americans are leading the way. If Obama has his way he will do the same to Syria as America and the west did to Libya et al. For all the scaremongering characteristics surrounding Putin and Russia, Putin’s plan to tackle IS comes across as sufficiently more humane than America’s usual air strike and plunder tactics.