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Trump could allow Assad to stay on as president until 2021

Putin has Assad's back, according to recent comments [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 December, 2017

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Washington's Syria policy could be about to take a dramatic u-turn, after media reports suggest that Trump might allow Assad to stay on as president until planned 2021 elections.

President Donald Trump could accept Bashar al-Assad remaining in power until 2021, sources told US media this week, marking a major U-turn in Washington's Syria policy.

US administrations over the past six years have insisted that any peace deal should include a condition that Assad step down as president.

According to a The New Yorker report on Monday US and European sources say that Trump could allow the man responsible for half a million deaths to stay on as Syria's leader for at least the next three years.

The decision could allow for the quick end to the war, but such a settlement would undoubtedly lead to future unrest.

Trump has previously said he might depart from his predecessor President Barack Obama's policy of removing Assad from the picture of a future Syria.

Allowing Assad to stay on until planned elections in 2021 could be enough to draw the reluctant regime into peace talks, who have for years blocked negotiations with the opposition fearing it might result in the president relinquishing power.

It would infuriate the opposition who have complained of years of US diplomatic and military inactivity during the six-year war, which allowed Assad to bring in foreign backers to bolster his position and intensify his attacks on civilian areas.

Analysts say that the current situation grants the opposition little room to manoeuvre. Rebel fighters have lost most of the key strategic ground in Syria, Russia appears confident that Assad has won the war, while even the opposition's key foreign backers appear keen on ending the war.

Putin's visit to a Russian airbase in Syria on Monday showed that despite Moscow's announcement it was withdrawing troops from the war-torn country its military presence there was

President Donald Trump could accept Bashar al-Assad staying in power until 2021, sources told a US media outlet this week, marking a major U-turn in Washington's Syria policy.

US administrations over the past six years have insisted that any peace deal should include a condition that Assad step down as president.

According to a The New Yorker report on Monday US and European sources say that Trump could allow the man responsible for half a million deaths to stay on as Syria's leader for at least the next three years.

The decision could allow for the quick end to the war, but such a settlement would undoubtedly lead to future unrest.

Trump has previously said he might depart from his predecessor President Barack Obama's policy of removing Assad from the picture of a future Syria.


Allowing Assad to stay on until planned elections in 2021 could be enough to draw the reluctant regime into peace talks, who have for years blocked negotiations with the opposition that might result in the president relinquishing power.

It would infuriate the opposition who have complained of years of US diplomatic and military inactivity during the six-year war, which allowed Assad to bring in foreign backers to bolster his position and intensify his attacks on civilian areas.

Analysts say that the current situation grants the opposition little room to manoeuvre. Rebel fighters have lost most of the key strategic ground in Syria, Russia appears confident that Assad has won the war, while even the opposition's key foreign backers appear keen on ending the war.

Putin's visit to a Russian airbase in Syria on Monday showed that despite Moscow's announcement it was withdrawing troops from the war-torn country its military presence there was irreversable. 

Russia has been keen to push through a peace deal favourable to Assad and warned the rebels it was ready to strike and crush any future anti-regime insurgency.

US sources told The New Yorker that officials are concerned Assad could win the 2021 election and stay in power longer. 

Even if he steps down in 2021, it could mean he outlives Trump as president who is due to face re-election in 2020.


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