The Trump Administration is now prepared to accept President Bashar al-Assad’s continued rule until Syria’s next scheduled Presidential election, in 2021, according to U.S. and European officials. The decision reverses repeated U.S. statements that Assad must step down as part of a peace process.
To be mentioned is that recently, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “The United States wants a whole and unified Syria with no role for Bashar al-Assad in the government.”
The new decision taken reflects the Administration’s limited options, the military reality on the ground, and the success of Syria’s Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah allies in propping up Assad. The more so, the so-called Syrian opposition groups backed by the United States have been ineffectual. They have squabbled among themselves and split into factions. No powerful leadership has emerged in almost seven years—since the Arab Spring uprising, in 2011, devolved into a civil war—to offer a viable alternative to Assad. Their demand of Assad’s step down as a precondition to peace or a political transition has become increasingly unrealistic.
Without a strategy in Syria, unpredictable Trump and his Administration say they still want a political process that holds the prospect of Assad’s departure. But it has concluded that it may take until 2021, when the next election is scheduled, to pull it off. It seems that the White House realized in the end that only Assad now can restore the peace and security in Syria and unite its citizens.