Putin flexes Syrian rhetoric at UN General Assembly

Cooper Miqueli, Contributing Writer

On Monday, Sept. 28, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly where the two spoke of various world issues, specifically touching upon the crisis in Syria. They discussed what they believed to be the correct course of actions in order to correct the turmoil and help those fleeing violence and instability. To correctly understand Obama’s and Putin’s points, however, one must first understand the Syrian Crisis. 

The Syrian Civil War, as it is now called, began in 2011, during the heart of the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring was a series of uprisings against national governments in nations across the Middle East. The uprising in Syria began after teenagers were arrested and abused for marking a school wall with revolutionary mantras. 

This caused unrest in Syria and the call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation. Assad then began using the military against the uprising, causing more people to take to the streets. The rebels were fighting against the government and people were being mauled down in the streets. By 2014, the United Nations stated that 191,000 people had been killed due to the civil war. By March 2015, 220,000 people had been killed. 

In 2014, ISIS, the terrorist Islamic State group, began fighting the Kurdish people and the Syrian rebels. They are now situated in Iraq and northern Syria. Because of the ongoing fighting that is running rampant through the streets of Syria, more than 12 million people have fled the area, half of which are children. Seven million people have been moved from their homes to areas throughout Syria while an additional four million have fled to neighboring countries. 

All of this brings us to the world today. At the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama gave a speech mentioning the civil war in Syria and addressing the issue of refugees fleeing the country due to the volatile nature of the crisis. 

Russian President Putin also gave a speech mentioning the Syrian crisis. After the Assembly, the two leaders had their first private meeting in two years. Obama and Putin disagree on one fundamental issue: Assad’s presidency. Putin wants to support Assad because Putin believes Assad is the only thing standing in the way of the Islamic State. President Obama strongly disagrees with President Putin in supporting Assad. Obama believes Assad is a tyrant and should not be supported. 

The issue in Syria needs to be addressed through a unified collaboration between multiple powerful countries, not just the United States and Russia. ISIS poses an imminent threat. They have killed many Americans and hundreds of thousands of innocent people. However, I do not believe that the U.S. needs to deploy any ground troops to the area. Instead, the U.S. can help Syrian refugees by sending medical necessities, food and water to the countries that have taken the refugees. The U.S. should lead by example and do something to help the refugees with or without support from other nations in the coming weeks.