President Vladimir Putin told the United Nations’ General Assembly on Monday that there is a need for an international coalition to fight the Islamic State terror group and support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
President Putin said the power vacuum in the Middle East had “started to be filled by militants and terrorists.” He added, “We think it is an enormous mistake to not cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces.”
“On the basis of international law, we must create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism.”
But there’s an obvious problem with his argument: By propping up Assad’s government, Moscow is actually facilitating the continued menace of the Islamic State.
The Assad regime a “terrorism generator of epic proportion, engaging in state terrorism against its own people and inciting terrorism from its opponents,” the strategic security firm The Soufan Group wrote last month.
“There is no justifying the actions of a group like the Islamic State or al-Nusra,” The Soufan Group continued, adding, “but the Assad regime’s wholesale slaughter of civilians provides the groups with radicalized supporters far faster than Assad’s military can then fight them.”
Nevertheless, Putin’s speech may have its intended effect.
“Sad commentary that 85 percent of what Putin said still sounded like he is now more relevant than Obama, ” David Rothkopf, CEO of the Foreign Policy Group, tweeted.
Russia has been increasing its military presence in Syria since the end of August — under the guise of helping the embattled Syrian president fight the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and other extremists.
But many experts have noted that Putin’s priority is not to get rid of ISIS, but to keep Assad in power against all rebels.
“The deployment is clearly designed to shore up the regime’s military capabilities, which have shown serious signs of weakness since March, when the rebels made a string of swift gains in different parts of the country,” Middle East expert Hassan Hassan wrote in The New York Times.