President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin took center stage at the United Nations General Assembly in late September with their conflicting stances on the situation in Syria. President Obama spoke first and told other world leaders that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down from power. His Russian counterpart expressed the exact opposite feelings on Syria: “No one but President Assad’s forces and Kurdish militia are truly fighting the Islamic state and other terrorist organizations in Syria.”  

 

The Syrian president has been accused of using chemical weapons against his civilians in the conflict against rebel insurgents.

 

 

Putin boldly asserted his stance on Syria amidst news that Russia is significantly increasing its military presence in the Middle East. Russia has aligned its interests in Syria with Iran, another country with which the United States has a tenuous relationship. According to the Wall Street Journal, Iran has significantly increased its support of President Assad since Russia has begun carrying out airstrikes on Syrian rebels.  

 

While Russia has fully committed to its foreign policy initiatives in Syria, the United States has yet to take any substantive action. More conservative Republicans have criticized the president for not being more decisive on the issue. However, Obama came into the White House hoping to lessen the United States presence in the Middle East. There is a good chance that while Obama condemns the current Syrian regime, he will leave the decision on taking significant action in Syria to his successor.  

 

Should the U.S. increase its presence in Syria? Does Russia have the best interests of the Syrian people at heart or is it more interested in gaining a stronger foothold in the Middle East? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4