14:11 GMT +3 hours30 July 2016
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In this Sunday, July 26, 2015, file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad delivers a speech in Damascus, Syria.

Washington Wants Assad to Go but Expects Him to Stay Until March 2017

© AP Photo/ SANA
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his "inner circle" will remain in power until March 2017, Associated Press reported, citing an internal document distributed among US officials dealing with the Syrian conflict.

In March 2017, "Assad relinquishes presidency; inner circle departs," the news agency quoted the timeline, outlined by the US leadership, as saying.

In this photo taken on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, a Syrian flag flies above the village of Maaloula, north of Damascus, Syria
© AP Photo/ Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP
Bashar al-Assad has not made public statements indicating whether he intends to step down months before the presidential election takes place or whether he would run for president. For its part, the document, obtained by the news agency, did not provide specific details.

The timeline loosely corresponds with a recently-adopted UN Security Council resolution, which offers a roadmap to solving the months-long war. The plan involves securing a ceasefire and then holding presidential and parliamentary elections. The polls are expected to take place mid-2017.

Russia has always maintained that the Syrians have the right to determine their own future, including choosing a president. Many analysts agree that if al-Assad runs for president, he stands a high chance of being reelected. 

Smoke billows after air strikes by regime forces on the town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region, a rebel stronghold east of the capital Damascus, on December 13, 2015
© AFP 2016/ AMER ALMOHIBANY
Smoke billows after air strikes by regime forces on the town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region, a rebel stronghold east of the capital Damascus, on December 13, 2015

The Obama administration has repeatedly said that al-Assad must go before the peace process could be launched. Many politicians, officials and experts believe that this stance is preventing the US from cooperating with Moscow, Tehran and Damascus in their fight against Daesh and is essentially delaying the resolution of the Syrian crisis, which has already claimed approximately 250,000 lives and displaced 11 million people. 

In recent weeks, Washington and its European allies appear to have backtracked on the "Assad must go" policy, saying that he could remain in power in the transition period.

Iranian protesters gather outside the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, on January 2, 2016
© AFP 2016/ ISNA / MOHAMMADREZA NADIMI
Iranian protesters gather outside the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, on January 2, 2016

The UN-sponsored peace process is scheduled to be launched later in January but it could be complicated by numerous rivaling factions and stakeholders, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. The two leading Shia and Sunni nations have seen their relations deteriorate dramatically after Riyadh executed a prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, a leading critic of the House of Saud.

The oil kingdom severed diplomatic ties with Iran after protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

According to the US timeline, a transitional governing body will be created in April 2016; in May the Syrian parliament will dissolve; in the next six months the new constitution will be drafted; the Syrians will take part in a constitutional referendum in January 2017. New government will be formed following elections held in August 2017.

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peace process, Syrian conflict, politics, Daesh, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, United States
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  • sepheronx
    Well, good thing is that it isnt up to the US or any otger country if Assad should stay or go. It is up to Syrians. Real Syrians, not those 'visitors' fighting for al nusra or whatever flavor of western backed terrorism.
  • Porkbelly Porkerpig
    Obama will GO in January 2017, and then there may be a whole new Washington.
  • Mikhas
    Why even publish this drivel?

    US is in no position to dictate it´s will on Damascus.
  • elsa.zardiniin reply toMikhas (Show commentHide comment)
    Mikhas, Precisely to awake excellent comments like yours all over here, methinks. Know your enemy.
  • tobi.gelando
    The USA will never change !! It thinks there can say President Assad muss stay in power until 2017 and than we send you in pension !! To my opinion the real Syrians vote the new President in to office !!! The USA thinks that there are bringing peace to Syrian !! the last 1 1/2 year you killing the wrong people in Syria.
  • cast235
    That's NOT democracy. Is dictatorship.
    The people can't decide who goes or stay, and a constitution up yours.
    Why Russia ALWAYS does the same thing. Fight to die at the end on dumb deals.
  • ariavd
    Yea right.And then the russians have to go ,and ewerything is fine.Somebody in the white house check the fuses lately,. Must be a short circuit somewhere ?
  • ptcjm
    And Washington is?
    With new elections in USA no one knows of the outcome for WH or anything else for that matter and with the democratical principles in USA where only the rich and bribed can obtain power, who knows there might be a need for revolution in order for the civilians to regain democracy from the crooks.
  • Only the people have the right to choose their leader. Washington is thousands of miles away. Maybe the President needs a reminder what a democracy is cos it's been sometime since there was one in America.
  • marcanhalt
    So, and based on some personal experiences, we have a man that is still living in the house that he was born in. He has invited into that home the people he will continue to live, in peace with, for the rest of his days. This man has, for the sake of an example, a great looking field of grape vines. Along comes someone with a little more power than him and wants that house and those grapevines for himself. The owner is adamant that he does not want to sell at any price. The 'greater' man goes home, depressed. and cries to his wife and anyone else that will listen that his desires are being rebuffed. The wife, after consulting with others, decides that the best way to gain possession of the property is to muddy up the owner's reputation and credit. So they spread the word that this man has issues, and they start a rumor war. It escalates and it escalates. One day he is out and about and he has an 'accident' which claims his life. Now there is no interference in simply acquiring the property from the bank which the man and wife own. Seems like I have heard this story before....
  • marcanhaltin reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    Russell, Your argument will not hold water if you don't, first, understand the difference between a left leaning democrat and something far left of that. Obama has proven that he is not a mainstream anything by his flaunting the powers of the Constitution which are just in his way of going further and further left of reason.
  • mounir.assi
    The US decide who goes and stay, means all countries in the world are belong to US, then why don't have only one passeport for the entire world.
    Then all our passeports and all our votes are rubbish.
    Staline once said" it is not important who votes, but it is important who counts the votes"
    Then the entire world votes are counted by US.
    Mr Putin are you aware of the US position?
    Mr Putin Russia is lucky to have somebody with big big balls, like you.
  • pbecke
    Assad and the Russians will be intrigued to learn it's a 'fait accompli'.
  • ivanwa88
    This article is based on memos circulated in the Whitehouse by officials dealing with the Syrian confrontation based on there version of demands put to the UN. In other words its a wishlist circulated to calm the bosses and in so doing keep there jobs. Its nothing more than that oh yes and of course a draft plan to leverage at all levels of diplomatic communication. OK hang on here the UN has made a decision with a proposed timetable as a working draft for all parties to work through. Therefore this article is unwarranted and unnecessary in that it creates confusion and falsely lends readers to believe US still has a leading act in the play. It does not! Its UN'S show with 6 principal actors. Sorry US your no longer the star billing you have stuffed up to many shows. P.S. UN mandate does not mention whether Assad should stay or go at all. It only mentions election will be held.
  • What's the reason why Assad should resign, again?
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