Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the formation of a “broader, general” coalition to fight Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Monday at the 70th United Nations General Assembly - his first address since a decade.
“We can no longer tolerate the current affairs of the world and we need to be guided by common values and interests,” Putin said. “We need to create a broad general coalition, similar to anti-Hitler coalition with Muslim countries playing a key role.”
In 1942, the victors of WWII formed an alliance to stop German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
Putin said Islamist militants also “desecrate” true meaning of Islam, a sentiment also expressed by his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama.
Before Putin’s address, Obama told the General Assembly that a “managed transition” in Syria should be done without President Bashar al-Assad.
However, Putin insisted that the refusal to work with Syria or Assad is an “enormous mistake.”
Instead, he said “strengthening statehood” is to a way to combat Islamist militants, citing the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which made the country a breeding ground for militias and jihadists including ISIS.
Like Obama, Putin backed the U.N. as an important international institution but rebuffed “unilateral sanctions” as being “contrary” to its “principles.”
The U.S. and EU have imposed set of sanctions on Russian individuals and businesses in response to the annexation of Crimea and the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
France cautiously backs Putin
In response, France on Monday gave cautious backing at the United Nations to Putin’s proposal.
Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly, French President Francois Hollande called such a coalition “possible, desirable, necessary” but said it would have to have “a clear basis, otherwise it would never come to light.”
Hollande used his address to rule out Assad from a solution to the Syrian conflict, saying it was impossible to make “the victims and the executioner” work together.
Hollande blamed the Syrian regime for the chaos in the country and denounced what he called the “tragedy” of terrorism and dictatorship.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday also called for a united front to fight extremists in the Middle East and said Tehran was ready to help “bring about democracy” in Syria and Yemen. But he stressed that the Damascus regime must take part in the effort.
In addition to Iran, Turkey is willing to work with all countries, including Russia, to find a political solution in Syria without Assad and defeat ISIS, its prime minister said Monday.
France to discuss no-fly zone
In the same time, Hollande said France will discuss with its partners in the coming days a proposal by Turkey and members of the Syrian opposition for a no-fly zone in northern Syria.
“(French Foreign Minister) Laurent Fabius in the coming days will look at what the demarcation would be, how this zone could be secured and what our partners think,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.
“We are studying this proposal,” Hollande said, adding that the Syrian refugees coming to Europe could return to the no-fly zone. “It could find a place in a Security Council resolution that would give international legitimacy to what”s happening in this zone.”
(With AFP and Reuters)