“The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict. But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to pre-war status quo,” Obama told heads of states and governments and other officials present at the UNGA.
“Yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out ISIL. But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so that the Syrian people can begin to rebuild,” Obama said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke at UNGA shortly after Obama, said no one but Assad and his armed forces are truly fighting the Islamic State. He did not elaborate on the assertion, especially given the fact that Assad and his military have rarely engaged against ISIL and instead have on opposition forces and other anti-regime groups.
Putin shared his concern that fighters recruited by ISIL, presumably Chechens and other Russians, may one day return home to Russia. Putin said, “We cannot allow these criminals who tasted blood to return home.” Putin called for a grand coalition of nations to fight ISIL.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who spoke after Obama and Putin, did not mention Assad by name. But he also called for a global coalition against terrorists, and proposed a “biding international document” against terrorism.
Rouhani’s remarks on the problems plaguing the region focused instead against the United States and its support for an “inhumane” Israel, saying current conflicts in the region are ultimately the product of American policy.
“If we did not have the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq… today the terrorists would not have an excuse or justification for their crimes,” Rouhani said.
It’s worthy to note that the Islamic Republic actively supported the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan after 9/11. It was not clear if Rouhani’s reference now to that war is a change in the official Iranian position.
Photo credit: Presidents Obama and Putin at the UN luncheon after their speeches to the General Assebly; Monday 28 September 2015 (Twitter)