15:00 GMT25 January 2021
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    Former US diplomat and Senate adviser James George Jatras explained to Sputnik that the rifts in the White House over how to handle the Syrian crisis manifest in its incoherent approach to tackling the terrorist threat.

    Conflicting advice is confusing the White House's approach to the Syrian crisis, with some advisers in the US appearing to believe that opposition to Assad and Russia is more important than defeating terrorism, former US diplomat and Senate adviser James George Jatras told Sputnik on Thursday.

    "He's getting advice from different directions, people who are hardline want to confront the Russians, and other people realize that that would be a real mistake and very dangerous." 

    "He's also got the political context between himself and Congress, where not only the Republicans but some of the Democrats are accusing him of being weak."

    While the administration takes positive steps on the one hand, such as a reported recent agreement between Russia and the US to avoid conflict in air operations, its confusion manifests in such steps as the US air drops to "so-called trusted commanders." 

    "We have no idea who they are, at best we don’t know that they're any kind of moderate, but we can pretty well guess that most of them are jihadists of one sort or another. This is extremely dangerous," said Jatras.

    "This has been the story all along in Syria, there just aren't any right hands. The fact that we might want there to be some other alternative doesn't mean that one in fact exists." 

    Turning to the US presidential elections which will take place next year, Jatras expressed concern that such conflicting policy may continue under the next administration, particularly given the foreign policy announcements of several presidential candidates, some of whom "really seem more concerned about Russia and about Assad then they are about Al-Qaeda and ISIS."

    "Some people, as you know, General Petraeus, even called for supporting moderate elements of Al- Qaeda. It's hard to believe that anybody could say that, 14 years after the 9/11 attacks."

    The average American voting in next year's elections is more focused on internal politics than foreign policy, meaning that they are ill-informed about the extent to which the Russians and the Assad government are fighting the terrorists the US government declared war on in September 2001, said Jatras.

    "Right now the Russians are changing the reality on the ground, but you still have the pro-forma talk from Washington or other western capitals, saying Assad must go, but now they're saying, well, maybe not immediately."

    "And I think eventually they're going to have to come to the reality that no, Assad is not going to go, and that the real problem is our allies, the Turks and the Saudis in particular. It looks like they're stepping up their support for the terrorists in Syria, and that is certainly not in the American interest as far as I can see." 


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    Syrian crisis, 2016 US Presidential Run, The Syrian war, James Jatras, Barack Obama, White House, Syria
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