According to the author, “Syria’s Assad has won — at least military,” pointing to the fact that the Syrian Armed Forces have managed to retake most of the country.
“Of the regional leaders who inspired violent domestic protests, Assad is the only one left in power (aside from the Bahrain monarchy that survived a brief protest with Saudi protection),” the author argues, adding that “Assad owes his survival to Russia and Iran, which brought significant ground and air forces to his rescue.”
In regards to the future of Syria, McLaughlin says that while Assad may have won the war, he is a leader with “no legitimacy.”
“But with 400,000 Syrians killed, 5.7 million having fled the country, and 6.1 million internally displaced, Assad emerges as a ruler with no legitimacy — and one with little claim on international assistance for reconstruction,” he added.
While the author concedes Assad may have won militarily, he argues that former U.S. President Barack Obama’s hesitancy to be more engaged in Syria and current President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the country has led to Washington’s failure to influence the future of the conflict.