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Trump to Let Assad Stay Until 2021

11:15, Tuesday, 12 December, 2017
Trump to Let Assad Stay Until 2021

Despite the deaths of as many as half a million people, dozens by chemical weapons, in the Syrian civil war, 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.
     As recently as October, after a swing through the Middle East, 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.” He told reporters travelling with him, “The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end. The only issue is how that should that be brought about.”
     The U.S. decision 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 the beleaguered Assad regime. In a surprise visit to Syria, on Monday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin declared victory against both isis jihadis and Western-backed rebels. “In just over two years, Russia’s armed forces and the Syrian Army have defeated the most battle-hardened group of international terrorists,” Putin told Russian forces stationed at an airbase in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia. Russia’s decision, in 2015, to provide air power to Assad is widely considered the pivotal turning point for the regime, which has now defied steep odds to hold on to power.
     Washington also intervened in Syria, although primarily to fight ISIS. Since 2014, the United States has spent more than fourteen billion dollars—an average of more than thirteen million a day—in its air campaign against the Islamic State’s pseudo-caliphate. It also deployed two thousand U.S. troops to advise the Syrian Democratic Forces, a rebel militia that ousted isis from its capital, in northern Raqqa, in October.

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