A day after reports that the two sides were close to a deal on Syria, President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin gave their respective UN General Assembly addresses, and once again the US and Russia are lashing each other for their respective anti-ISIS strategies.
Putin is continuing to push a strategy Russia has been pushing for months, the formation of a “broad coalition” of secular forces to fight against ISIS. In his speech today, Putin likened this coalition to the alliance against Nazi Germany during World War 2.
Putin went on to accuse the US of “egotism” in its war in Syria, aiming to destroy ISIS and the Syrian government at the same time, and assume that America’s unipolar view of the world meant this would inevitably lead to an outcome favorable to the US.
President Obama’s speech came before Putin’s, and he railed at Putin for suggesting the fight against ISIS required a coalition, and demanded that Russia endorse Syrian regime change as a condition for being allowed to take part in the American war against ISIS.
Putin shot back that it’s only the Syrian military and Kurds who are seriously fighting ISIS in the first place, and it’s a mistake to refuse all cooperation with the Syrian military while they’re engaged in a protracted war against ISIS.
For the US, the regime change position came early on Syria, and President Obama even tried to start a war against the Syrian government before he settled for the war against ISIS. Having endorsed regime change, the administration simply isn’t going to change its find, no matter how little sense the current strategy of multiple wars against multiple factions aimed at installing a pro-US faction that doesn’t exist seems.