Disasters in Seria and Yemen
An Interview with Gilbert Achcar
Date Written: 01/05/2016
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21382
Interview with author Gilbert Achcar.
ATC: Do you see any possible track toward ending the war?
GA: This can only happen if there's a major change in the position of the Syrian regime. The minimum that might be seen by the opposition as the basis of agreement would be a transitional government, with Bashar al-Assad stepping down - any transitional set-up that would be presided over by Assad would be a non-starter.
The United States has been waffling on this whole question - sometimes saying Assad must step down, other times talking about him staying in place during a transition period. If Obama and Kerry try to impose on the opposition an agreement with Assad remaining in position, it's bound to fail, all the more because U.S. leverage is limited for having done nothing to stop Russia, let alone Iran, from intervening massively on the side of the regime.
The United States has consistently vetoed the main means that the opposition needed from the start and still needs, i.e. anti-aircraft weapons. The major leverage Washington could have now would be to promise to lift this veto! But that would be a complete change of strategy on Washington's part, going back to when parts of the Obama administration advocated enabling the opposition to become a real threat to the regime. This policy was not accepted by Obama.