U.S. and Russia Discuss Syria at U.N.

A meeting between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly has given U.S. officials greater “clarity” about Russia’s intentions in Syria but the two countries remain at an impasse on how to proceed, officials said. Russia’s “objectives are to go after ISIL and to support the ...

GettyImages-490448480
GettyImages-490448480

A meeting between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly has given U.S. officials greater “clarity” about Russia’s intentions in Syria but the two countries remain at an impasse on how to proceed, officials said. Russia’s “objectives are to go after ISIL and to support the government,” a U.S. official told the Washington Post after the 90-minute-long meeting. A Kremlin spokesman said Obama and Putin also discussed potential intelligence sharing with regards to the Islamic State; Russia has recently established intelligence-sharing agreements with several countries in the Middle East, including Israel, Iraq, Iran, and the Assad regime.

The meeting came after Obama and Putin addressed the situation in Syria in their General Assembly speeches. Both took aim at the other in their remarks, with Obama expressing concern at Russia’s support for the regime and Putin criticizing the United States for destabilizing the Middle East by supporting democratic reforms. Both leaders remain at odds over the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his role going forward. At a press conference on Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reiterated his position that the Syrian civil war cannot be resolved as long as Assad is in power.

Saudi Arabia Criticized for Response to Deadly Stampede

A meeting between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly has given U.S. officials greater “clarity” about Russia’s intentions in Syria but the two countries remain at an impasse on how to proceed, officials said. Russia’s “objectives are to go after ISIL and to support the government,” a U.S. official told the Washington Post after the 90-minute-long meeting. A Kremlin spokesman said Obama and Putin also discussed potential intelligence sharing with regards to the Islamic State; Russia has recently established intelligence-sharing agreements with several countries in the Middle East, including Israel, Iraq, Iran, and the Assad regime.

The meeting came after Obama and Putin addressed the situation in Syria in their General Assembly speeches. Both took aim at the other in their remarks, with Obama expressing concern at Russia’s support for the regime and Putin criticizing the United States for destabilizing the Middle East by supporting democratic reforms. Both leaders remain at odds over the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his role going forward. At a press conference on Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reiterated his position that the Syrian civil war cannot be resolved as long as Assad is in power.

Saudi Arabia Criticized for Response to Deadly Stampede

In remarks at the United Nations yesterday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused Saudi Arabia of “incompetence” for the deaths of pilgrims in a stampede during the hajj. Rouhani claimed thousands died in the incident, though Saudi Arabia’s figures place the death toll at 769 people. The Indonesian government has also been critical of Saudi Arabia’s management of the disaster, saying their diplomats were only given access to the dead days after the stampede.

New from FP: You won’t want to miss this week’s new Editor’s Roundtable (The E.R.) episode, just posted this morning. David Rothkopf, Rosa Brooks, Kori Schake, and Robert Kagan debate who has been the world’s most successful leader since President Barack Obama took office.  Turns out, as the old baseball sage once said, “Nice guys finish last.”  Listen and subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher: http://atfp.co/1K7nhrI

Headlines

  • Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen targeted a wedding party near the city of Mokha, killing as many as 135 people; the civilian toll of the war now stands at 2,355 deaths, according to the United Nations.

 

  • At the request of the British government, the United Nations placed international sanctions on four British citizens accused of recruiting for the Islamic State.

 

  • Turkish forces killed more than 30 Kurdish militants in a cross-border raid on Monday night, according the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

 

  • The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the U.N.-supported investigation into the assassination of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri, has indicted the deputy director of television station Al-Jadeed for “not removing information about identities of confidential witnesses.”

 

  • Human Rights Watch urged the Tunisian government to release a 22-year-old man who was arrested last week on charges of homosexuality.

Arguments and Analysis

добро пожаловать” (Daniel Serwer, Peacefare)

“There is little risk that 1500 Russians can accomplish much on the military side, beyond protecting western Syria from being overrun and the Alawites slaughtered. Any damage the Russians do to relative moderates won’t be decisive. It is at least as likely that the extremists will do significant damage to the Russians than the other way around. As for the Russian argument that we should all unite with Bashar al Assad to defeat the terrorists, it really isn’t worthy of much of a response. Bashar and his forces have made it clear for years that their real enemies are the relative moderates the Coalition is supporting. Bashar has no real possibility of reestablishing control over all of Syria. His military tactics of besieging civilian areas and terrorizing their population with barrel bombs have done far more to generate terrorist recruits than to reduce their numbers. Russian forces, who honed their tactics in Chechnya, may kill a lot of people but won’t be any better at counter-insurgency warfare.”

 

Don’t forget about the people” (Sarah Yerkes, Markaz)

“It is not another intifada we should be worried about, but rather the simmering tension between the Israeli and Palestinian publics that is fueled by government policies and rhetoric on both sides and by a lack of understanding of the other side that characterizes this generation. Natan is right to point out that any resumption of large-scale violence would cause ‘immediate devastation and long-term damage.’ However, even the level of small-scale violence that has been ongoing intermittently since last summer has the potential not only to push moderate Israelis and Palestinians into the arms of their respective extremist groups, but also to permanently divide the two societies, rendering impossible the most basic level of coexistence necessary for the implementation of any successfully negotiated settlement.”

-J. Dana Stuster

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.