13:24 GMT +319 October 2019
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    Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma walk in a street of Paris on December 10, 2010

    Trump Administration Signals It Won't Seek Assad’s Ouster

    © AFP 2019 / MIGUEL MEDINA
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    On Thursday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Washington no longer will pursue an agenda of removing Syrian President Bashar Assad from power, marking a tectonic shift in US foreign policy.

    The comments mark a major admission of defeat of that particular aspect of US foreign policy. 

    "Our priority," Haley said, "is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out," Haley said on Thursday. "Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria." 

    The question of whether Assad will retain power has had leaders scratching their heads all over the globe. Since January, a shaky ceasefire has been in effect, brokered by Moscow, Tehran and Ankara. 

    Moscow and Ankara specifically have emerged as guarantors of the ceasefire, but essentially every other country, including the US under the Obama administration, wanted to see Assad removed from power. The question leaders have had to grapple with – whether Assad could, should or would stay in power – now seems to have gained some clarity.

    While the US struggles to maintain its will on the international landscape, the removal of Washington’s support for anti-Assad voices is a major blow to interests that wanted to see Assad replaced. 

    In response to a question on whether a political settlement in Syria would include the resignation of Assad, Haley replied in an article published March 30, “This is one of the situations where the US and Russia can definitely talk and say, ‘OK, how can we get to a better solution here?’ but the issue of Assad is going to be there.”

    Earlier in March, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Assad isn’t “an acceptable leader to all of the Syrian people.” Ousting Assad was one of the Obama administration’s top objectives in the Middle East.

    While visiting Ankara, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also said that the US would retreat from its previous stance. 

    The “longer term” status of Assad “will be decided by the Syrian people,” Tillerson said during a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday.


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