The Trump administration is now starting to sound a lot like the Obama team when it comes to Syria. The message, after many fits, starts and contradictions, seems to be President Bashar al-Assad does not have a long-term future in Syria.
They are trying to shame Russia into abandoning their ally. We’ve heard all of that for years, so what could be different this time?
The Art of the Deal!
That’s right, US President Donald Trump prides himself on being one of the best negotiators in the business world. So when Jordan’s King Abdullah suggested a “horse trade” with Russia, that is the language the president loves and understands.
So what could that look like? The king indicated the US should think about lifting sanctions on Russia over Crimea in exchange for help in Syria.
Many analysts in Washington don’t believe the Russians are particularly tied to Assad as long as they can be guaranteed their influence will continue under new leadership.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson now says Assad has to go but he’s also warned about what happens when a strong leader is suddenly removed. He uses Libya as the cautionary tale. Hence the emphasis on the long term.
‘Zones of stability’
So let’s imagine that Tillerson is not going to his first Moscow meetings empty handed. I’ve been talking to some very knowledgeable and connected people about what the US really means when they propose setting up zones of stability.
The best answer I’ve gotten so far is from Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. Here’s what he had to say about a possible settlement to this long-running war:
“What we need to do is create autonomous areas in the…
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