MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Donald Trump's administration is prepared to accept the continuation of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule until the country's next presidential election, set for 2021, The New Yorker newspaper reported, citing unnamed US and EU officials, explaining that depending on the results of the next US presidential election in 2020, he might still be in power, when the incumbent US president leaves office.
This stance contradicts Washington's previous statements, which have supported the Syrian opposition, urging Assad to step down as part of the crisis settlement. However, due to the latest developments in the region, the defeat of the Daesh terror group (banned in Russia) in Arab Republic, has again sparked intense discussions on the country's future, as well as the political settlement.
After over six years of the conflict, Damascus has regained control over the majority of territories previously seized by the rebels or militants and the opposition, quite the opposite, has reportedly itself themselves in a weaker position, as it has split into various factions with no new leadership emerging since 2011.
According to the media outlet, in the peace process, the United States had been largely sidelined by Russia, Iran, and Turkey, which have also initiated the Syrian settlement negotiations held in Astana, thus driving Washington to change its course.
Taking into consideration political and military realities, US officials have reportedly decided that transition of political power in Syria will depend on elections in the country, held under the auspices of the UN. Nevertheless, in Syria, devastated by the civil war, holding such a vote would be a challenge, according to diplomats, cited by the outlet, which added that new and credible opposition would need time to emerge.
Syrian Civil War: Geneva and Astana Talks
While the eighth round of the talks in Geneva resumed on Monday, the Syrian government delegation returned to the negotiations' table after refusing to participate in last week’s talks due to the opposition’s call for Assad to leave.
The principal stumbling block for all the Syrian sides to settle the conflict is the formation of a transitional governing body in Syria, because the opposing powers have polar opposite views on the potential role of current President Bashar Assad in it. The opposition insists Assad "must go" at the very beginning of the transitional period, while the government cannot accept this and calls it a precondition for direct talks.
The civil war has been raging in Syria since 2011, with government forces fighting numerous opposition factions and terrorist groups. The international community has taken a number of steps aimed at settling the crisis, including through intra-Syrian talks in Geneva and reconciliation negotiations in Astana.