Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, spoke to the U.N. General Assembly yesterday in New York City, slamming Obama for his support of the Arab Spring. “Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress,” said Putin, “we got violence, poverty, and social disaster – and nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life. I cannot help asking those who have forced that situation: do you realize what you have done?”
President Obama supported a regime change in Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Syria that lead to an explosion of Islamic violence and human suffering. Putin blamed the current crisis in the Middle East on American policy. He criticized the U.S. for “exporting social experiments,” that were in reality democratic revolutions.
“No one but President Assad’s armed forces and Kurdish militia are truly fighting the Islamic state and other terrorist organizations in Syria,” said Putin, highlighting the fact that we must cooperate with Syria in order to fight the extremist group. Not doing so would be an “enormous mistake.”
The Russian president called for a new coalition, based on cooperation with the Assad regime, to fight against ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
“We must address the problems that we are all facing and create a broad anti-terror coalition,” said Putin, comparing his plans to the alliance that defeated Hitler during WWII. He suggested that Jordan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia link up with Iran in a United Nations-backed coalition.
“The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict,” said President Obama, admitting that he is unwilling to send the U.S. military to Syria after seeing it fail in Iraq.
Putin’s insistence that Russia would not send ground forces to fight ISIL, however, makes me wonder if Putin’s plan is to fight the terrorist group or to help the regime win a broader war against armed opposition of all colors.
Either way, Russia stands with President Bashar al-Assad. Putin’s speech made it clear that Russia has emerged as a direct competitor with the U.S. when it comes to leadership of the Middle East and the Syrian crisis.