South Asia Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Barbara Slavin writes for Voice of America on disagreements between Obama and Putin on the civil war in Syria:
More than a year after their last uncomfortable encounter, the presidents of the United States and Russia have managed to conduct a lengthy and civil discussion about the issue dominating this year’s U.N. General Assembly – the multisided, devastating civil war in Syria.
Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke for more than 90 minutes on Monday afternoon in a small conference room at UN headquarters. Their major difference was over whether it is possible to bring peace to Syria while Bashar al-Assad is in charge of what remains of the Syrian regime.
For Putin, who prefers authoritarianism to democratic disorder, Assad is a bulwark against the complete takeover of Syria by the group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) and other Muslim fundamentalists. The Russian leader clearly regards those who have tried to overturn Middle East dictators such as Assad as naïve fools whose efforts have delivered only more grief and terrorism to the region.