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Washington: Assad Still Must Go – OpEd

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At the State Department’s daily briefing today, Spokesman John Kirby conceded that the Syrian government led by President Assad may have a role to play in a “political transition” of the country.

The apparent shift was in response to a reporter who pointed out that Assad is not opposed by the entire population of Syria:

…the Assad regime definitely represents a certain constituency in Syria. The minorities, Christians, even a portion of the Sunnis look at the Syrian regime as their representative, in particular at Bashar al-Assad. Why should Bashar al-Assad be complex nixed out of the process, considering that he controls the larger portion on the ground, proudly asserting themselves as the major power in that conflict on the ground? Why should Assad be nixed out of the process?

State Spokesman Kirby replied:

Nobody said that there wouldn’t be a role for Assad or for the institution of his – institutions of his government in the transition.

It appears to be a slight step back from the previous position that no talks could be held on Syria’s future until Assad is out of power. However, this “shift” is more cosmetic than substantive, as Kirby reiterated that, “nothing’s changed about our position on Bashar al-Assad.”

In fact, a “role in the political transition” is just another way of saying “Assad must go.” It means that even as the facts have changed considerably on the ground, the initial US position — a position that led to US support of jihadist mercenaries to overthrow the Syrian government — has not changed.

Kirby was asked again by a reporter, “[Assad] can’t have a long-term leadership role in Syria?”

He repeated: “That is correct.”

Kirby was then reminded by a reporter that the US government is not the sole decider on what happens to Syria:

But you’re not a mediator in this process. You’re one of the countries that has views.

A point that Kirby conceded, but added:

…many of our European allies have taken very much the same position that we have taken. So it’s not like everybody involved has got widely different views here, but there are some different opinions and perspectives on what a successful transition means and what that looks like.

We’re all on the same page, in other words. But are we?

What is a “political transition”? Is it an election where all sides are allowed to compete freely for the vote of the people? Neither the State Department nor the Washington press corps seem able to stomach that possibility.

One reporter asked Kirby:

…what if there is – through some hideous circumstances, you have completely transparent elections and so on, and Assad is elected? What happens then?

Kirby refused to even entertain that possibility:

That’s a great hypothetical that I’m not going to engage in.

Kirby reiterated the US view that the future of Syria should be decided by a country 6,000 miles away. A view that somehow the United States knows what is better for the Syrian people than the Syrians themselves:

This is about coming together to try to reach a consensus view on what an effective political transition can look like in Syria. … The Syrian people deserve a country that they can call home and they can be safe and secure and stable and have a prosperous future. It needs to be unified; it needs to be whole; it needs to be pluralistic.

Kirby’s language toward accepting negotiation with Iran was similarly truculent: Iran can only be “constructive” if it drops its support for the Syrian government and accepts the Saudi-US-Turk regime change project in Syria.

The US is in denial about Syria. Its hope is that Russia and Iran will, after expending considerable financial and political capital to radically change the realities on the ground in Syria, come around to Washington’s view that Assad must go and a new government made up of the opposition must be installed. Perhaps a caretaker government that can organize “elections” like we have seen in post-coup Ukraine, where the parties out of favor in Washington are simply outlawed and not allowed to compete. Stranger things have happened, but it would be a blunder on par with Russia’s vote in favor of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing no-fly zones over Libya. Russian president Putin made the point that Syria’s political future should be decided by Syrians alone. It is a position based on the concept of state sovereignty that the US so closely guards in itself but discounts in others.

This article was published by the RonPaul Institute.

One thought on “Washington: Assad Still Must Go – OpEd

  • Avatar
    October 28, 2015 at 5:37 pm
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    It seems to me that those who write for the Ron Paul Institute are
    pretty sensible. I wonder, however, if they know what is the REAL
    reason Washington is so determined to be rid of al-Assad, who may be a bad actor (that’s the mythology) but who does have solid support among large groups of Syrians. As far as a political opposition goes, does not every country, including ours have a political opposition? Does the presence of an opposition mean that the government gives up its responsibilities? Not as far as I can see.
    I can only account for the US position by taking into account that the US in siding with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey in the Sunni/Shia dispute that is ripping the Middle East apart. Al-Assad leads the only technically secular state, so he is getting opposition from everyone. Plus, he is Russia’s client (Syria has historically been the client of the USSR), which means the US is determined to be rid of him. The Shias are represented by Iraq and Iran, and Iran is Israel’s favorite nation to hate and fear; Israel is also America’s pet client state. So, since both of the US clients are averse to Syria and its leader, the US manufactures all this rubbish about Syrians deserving democracy and equal rights. They may, but perhaps they would prefer to figure out their own future free of the multiple jihadi groups that all the outside players have weaponized and sent in to fight (many of them are just mercenaries, who will fight for whoever pays best).
    In the meantime, the EU countries are paying a heavy price for supporting US policy, which it is clear the American citizens do not want if it involves another war in the Middle East.
    The DC neo-Con plan to remove a legitimate government in Kiev in order to install Victoria Nuland’s hand-picked puppets and start a civil war there has already ended in disaster. I see no reason why removing Syria’s legitimate ruler to install something the neo-Cons prefer will lead to anything except to leave a vacuum that ISIL will be happy to fill. That will create a long-term war there that the US mil/industrial complex will be happy to provide weapons for as well as money for military contractors like Bechtel and Halliburton. Perpetual war for perpetual peace, as Vidal once wrote. But is there not something seriously wrong with a world where the military hegemon creates one horrific war after another, largely to keep its weapons industry in business? It does create a huge amount of human suffering and one failed state after another.

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