US thinks Assad will stay even after Obama: Document
The administration of US does not foresee Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stepping down before March 2017, months after his American counterpart will leave the White House, a government document has revealed.
The document hints at a timeline prepared for US officials overseeing the Syria crisis. It sets an unspecified date in March next year as the time when Assad will “relinquish” his position and his “inner circle” will depart, theAssociated Press reported Wednesday.
This means Assad will outlast Obama who is slated to leave office in January 2017. The American president first called for Assad’s removal of power roughly five years ago.
The timeline, obtained by AP, is reportedly designed based on an UN-endorsed peace plan for the Arab country that was reached in Vienna, Austria, in November.
According to a joint statement released by the UN following the negotiations attended by representatives from 17 countries, it was agreed that Syria should have a transitional government in six months and hold elections in 18 months.
The US timeline fails to outline exactly how Assad would leave or what his post-presidential future might hold.
It does note however that the 18-month transition period in Syria will start next month.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since 2011, which has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people so far.
Fifteen months after a US-led coalition launched an air campaign in the country purportedly to counter the foreign-backed extremist groups such as Daesh (ISIL), the Obama administration has become under heavy criticism from Congress.
Washington’s policy in the Arab country drew more scolding in the wake of Russia’s aerial campaign against Daesh positions upon a request from Damascus in late September, 2015.
Obama’s military campaign took another blow last year, when a $500-million program by the Pentagon to train and arm “moderate” militants battling the Syrian government and ISIL terrorists was halted in October.
American military officials have admitted that the “train-and-equip” program failed to train but a “handful” of recruits.