As President Obama cedes more of the world stage to Vladimir Putin, Russia continues to jump on any and all opportunities to humiliate his administration. Over the weekend, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev laid the lion's share of the blame for the rise of ISIS on Obama's "irresponsible" policies.
After a meeting between Medvedev and Obama at the East Asia Summit in Malaysia this weekend, according to Interfax, the Russian PM blasted Obama for his handling of Syria. The rise to power of ISIS, claimed Medvedev, "became possible partly due to irresponsible U.S. politics" which directed its campaign against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rather than joining with those fighting ISIS. According to Interfax, Medvedev also blamed the U.S. for 9/11, saying that American policies helped promote the rise of al-Qaeda.
Rise of ISIS "became possible partly due to irresponsible U.S. politics."
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
Meanwhile, Obama is deliberately trying to toughen his tone, insisting that Assad must go (which he has been saying now for four years) and that Russia needs to choose which side it's on.
"Russia has not officially committed to a transition of Assad moving out but they did agree to a political transition process," Obama said. "And I think we’ll find out over the next several weeks whether or not we can bring about that change in perspective with the Russians.”
Regardless of what Russia chooses to do in the region, Obama said that the U.S. will continue its campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Despite Obama's tough talk on Assad, as AP notes, it's looking increasingly more likely that his presidency will "outlast Barack Obama's":
As the United States has turned its attention to defeating the Islamic State group, it has softened its stance on the Syrian leader. More than four years ago, Obama demanded that Assad leave power. Administration officials later said Assad did not have to step down on "Day One" of a political transition. Now, they are going further.
A peace plan agreed to last weekend by 17 nations meeting in Vienna says nothing about Assad's future, but states that "free and fair elections would be held pursuant to the new constitution within 18 months." To clarify the timeline, the State Department said this past week that the clock starts once Assad's representatives and opposition figures begin talks on a constitution. The vote would determine a new parliament, though not necessarily a new president.
Medvedev and Obama appear to agree on one point: the fight against ISIS requires a concerted effort from global leaders, with Medvedev stressing that the UN needs to help orchestrate the campaign.