President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin both gave separate speeches to the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, detailing their commitment to fighting terrorism in Syria — although they both drifted away from each other on how to fight that said goal.
Obama stressed the importance of ridding the Middle East of fascist dictator Bashar al-Assad.
"Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria. When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation's internal affairs," Obama said.
But Putin upheld the same perspective he has had since the beginning of the Syrian civil war — that Assad deserves support from outside nations.
“We think it’s an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face,” Putin said.
Obama countered this notion, suggesting Assad needs to be pushed out of power immediately.
“Assad and his allies cannot simply pacify the broad majority of a population who have been brutalized by chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing,” Obama said. “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.”
While the terrorist organization ISIS has been front and center in the Syrian conflict as the heinous villain, Assad’s corruption and crimes have thus gone almost unnoticed by the media's scrutinizing eye. Yet the Syrian regime is just as guilty, if not more so, in torturing the Syrian people.
The regime has a brutal policy of targeting and killing the most vulnerable in the Syrian population in order to maintain order and instill fear in its citizens, according to the the Telegraph. In May 2012, Assad’s forces raided the town of Houla and savagely massacred 108 people —killing 49 children under the age of 10 and even executing some children by cracking their skulls open. According to the BBC, applying this use of torture to cleanse his own population, Assad has consistently evaded UN Security Council resolutions and, according to experts, is responsible for 95% of all 111,000 civilian deaths since 2011. While ISIS is considered the notorious “bad guy” in the conflict, the Syrian government has killed seven times more civilians than the terrorist organization has.
Assad’s regime's sadistic methods of torture were documented in more than 55,000 pictures by ousted military photographer, “Caesar.”
Refugees are fleeing Syria not because of ISIS, but because of Assad’s torture machine. Russia’s assertion to stand by Assad cannot be the solution, and keeping him in power will only breed disastrous consequences for the Syrian people. As BBC predicts, siding with Assad, “will only prolong and intensify the conflict and will almost certainly spark a jihadist mobilization the like of which the world has never seen.”
Putin needs to recognize that supporting Assad's regime, he is supporting a terrorist organization.