It’s time for the West to deal with the real problem in Syria

Leela Jacinto writes: if we’re all allies in the fight against the so-called “caliphate,” we can’t seem to agree on the Lion King in Damascus. Over the past few months, there has been much talk of Washington and Paris easing their “President Bashar al-Assad must go” position to “Assad may stay a while” until a transition to the great unknown is hammered out.

In a rousing speech before a special session of parliament the first working day after the Paris attacks, Hollande signaled a shift in France’s hard-line stance when he noted that the country’s new top priority is the fight against the Islamic State.

The Paris attacks have done wonders for Assad. On both sides of the Atlantic, some influential people are starting to warm up to — or at the very least tolerate — him. In an interview with CBS News, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell acknowledged that Washington’s Syria strategy has not worked and it was “time to look at something else.” Assad, he conceded, was “part of the problem,” but Morell noted that “he may also be part of the solution.”

In France, the calls for Hollande to adopt a realistic approach to Syria have turned into a roar. Former French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine did not mince his words in a France Inter radio interview in late September when he said, “Let’s not forget that in the fight against Hitler, we had to ally with Stalin, who killed more people than Hitler.”

That’s a Socialist former minister and a darling in certain French lefty circles talking. In Parisian chattering circles, where speculation of a cabinet reshuffle is rife, Védrine is on top of the speculation charts to replace Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the staunchest defender of the “Assad must go” position.

On the extreme right — a rising force in France — the romance with Assad, the exterminator of “les barbus” (the bearded ones), never faded. [Continue reading…]

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