Why Donald Trump’s pro-Assad stance won’t end Syria’s turmoil

Murtaza Hussain writes: After nearly six years, the Syrian civil war is heading towards a possible conclusion. High-profile talks organized by the Russian government are set to commence later this month, seeking to bring a negotiated end to the brutal conflict. The U.S. has been encouraging these talks as a step towards a broader political settlement that will require American participation.

While President-Elect Donald Trump and Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader, have both publicly flirted with the idea of partnering in the future, any normalization of U.S. relations with Syria should occur only if major reforms and a transition of power are carried out, according to many experts on the region. Any other outcome would not end the country’s instability, only postpone it.

“The attitude of the United States towards the upcoming talks is very important,” says Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. “Donald Trump has said he prefers Bashar al-Assad over any alternatives, but the reality is that any outcome that doesn’t result in guaranteed political transition and reform in Syria will not end the conflict there.”

At the heart of the problem is the Assad regime itself. While the Assad family has managed to hold onto power in the country for over four decades, it has done so in a brutal manner that repeatedly generated major crises between itself and its own population. The most recent conflict has only been the largest, and has taken on regional and even global dimensions. Among these are a massive refugee crisis and the emergence of transnational terrorist groups that have launched attacks across the world.[Continue reading…]

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