Obama and Putin at odds over Syria strategy

US President Obama and Russian President Putin presented opposing views on the fight against the IS terror group on Monday in New York. It's already far too late to bring peace to the war-torn region, some commentators argue. Others are optimistic that the chaos in Syria can be stopped with Moscow's help.

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Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

End of the post-colonial era

The Middle East is on the verge of total collapse, the business paper Il Sole 24 Ore prophesies gloomily: "It simply no longer exists, not even on the map. The war has removed the states and borders, and overrun Islam itself. All of the post-colonial structures have broken down, because the only element that held the states together as such, nationalism in its most extreme form (Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Gaddafi in Libya), no longer exists. The only flag that still flies in the wind is the black flag of the caliphate that has done away with all colonial borders. The war against this caliphate cannot be won with airstrikes. That is clear to both Putin and Obama, who is unwilling to deploy ground forces. Both Putin and Obama as well as the states involved in the conflict - Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia - know that zero hour has struck for the region, and that a military solution won't be enough to reconstruct a world that no longer exists."

Večernji list (HR) /

Moscow can deal with crisis situations

Putin has what it takes to play a pivotal role in solving the Syrian conflict, the conservative daily Večernji List believes: "Washington wants to end the adventure in Syria - once again anything but a success story - at all costs, even if that means ceding the leading role to Russia. Putin has come to the US strengthened in several respects: he has calmed the situation in Ukraine, bolstered the Syrian opposition and received Germany's blessing, which longs to put the sanctions against Russia and the refugee crisis behind it. ... Russia has shown with the example of Chechnya, the stabilisation of several Islamic states on Russia's periphery and the destruction of the so-called Caucasus Emirate that it can deal with crisis situations. If the CIA won't play along, then Russia will fight the IS terror together with Iran and China. However you cut it, Putin will come away as the winner in Europe's eyes. And Europe will be indebted to him for a long time to come."

Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

West contributed to chaos in the region

Putin's strategy in the Middle East makes more sense than that of the Western powers, writes historian Götz Aly in an opinion piece for the centre-left daily Berliner Zeitung: "It is mainly thanks to Russia that the world is now finally preparing to end the Syrian civil war - and proxy war - with a combination of political and military instruments. The Western powers and their media litanists have only increased the appalling chaos in Iraq, Libya and Syria. They sent instructors and weapons to support supposedly democratic rebels in Syria who then defected to the IS and the al-Nusra Front in droves. The US equipped Iraqi soldiers with ultra-modern weapons, but then these brothers-in-arms disappeared pronto, leaving their brand new vehicles and military equipment to the radical terrorists."

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Russia once more a force to be reckoned with

Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly presenting his country as a superpower, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger comments: "Perhaps the worst mistake committed by the Nobel Peace Prize winner [Obama] during the Ukraine crisis was to call Russia a regional power. ...'We have no obsession that Russia must be a superpower,' Putin said. The deployment in Syria that made him the most regarded speaker at the 70th UN General Assembly and finally secured him a meeting with the US president tells another story. That deployment has disproved Obama's comment about Russia's status as a regional power. Perhaps that was one of its main objectives. Putin has made it clear that Russia is once again a force to be reckoned with. If the West has understood that, perhaps this will serve some purpose. Because hopefully it will become clear to more politicians that offhand remarks are of no help in the conflict with Moscow."