The Current

Backing Bashar al-Assad and Russia could stop ISIS, say experts

Four-and-a-half years into Syria's unforgiving civil war, the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad we were sure would have been deposed by now is not only hanging on - he's emboldened. And now Russia's campaign to keep Assad in power is finding currency elsewhere as the fight against ISIS seems stalled.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 20, 2015. Assad made a surprise visit to Moscow to thank Putin for launching air strikes against Islamist militants in Syria. (REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin)

"The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict. But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo."- U.S. President Obama last month at the U.N.- U.S. President Obama last month at the U.N.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin before a bilateral meeting at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 28, 2015. (Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA-Novosti/Kremlin/AP)

"I relate to my colleagues, the American and French presidents, with great respect. But they aren't citizens of Syria, and so shouldn't be involved in choosing the leadership of another country. It's Syria's business. Although this is of course a deep and bloody conflict, we at the same time will insist on a political solution and a political process."- Russian President Putin last month at the U.N.- Russian President Putin last month at the U.N.
Two world leaders... with two sharply different ideas on what to do about Syria, and its leader, Bashar al-Assad.
Karim Emile Bitar, director of research at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations, says the fastest way to stop the violence in Syria may involve letting Assad stay in power (for now). (EPA)
"Whenever the Syrian people want to change their president, It should be changed right away through constitutional process. That's how we change presidents, not through terrorism, and external intervention."- Bashar al-Assad in March 2015- Bashar al-Assad in March 2015

Until recently, much of the world opinion would have agreed with president Obama that the dire situation inside Syria cannot be solved without regime change.

But that could be changing. With the arrival of Russia's military inside Syria... and the refugee crisis growing worse each week... there are new calls to forge ahead with a political solution in Syria.

Even one that leaves President Assad in power... for now. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Julian Uzielli and Lara O'Brien.

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