West should accept Assad will remain in power in Syria ― former U.S. President Carter

Bringing peace in Syria will require the West accepts President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter wrote in the New York Times.

Carter suggested that U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart agreed to a solution in Syria that involves Assad staying on during their July summit in Finland and urged other Western powers to do likewise, despite them having embraced the slogan “Assad must go” back in 2011 when the conflict began.

“Western countries,” he wrote, “including the United States, should re-engage incrementally with the Syrian government. They can start by reopening their embassies in Syria, since Western diplomats’ absence from Damascus has led to missed opportunities. The West should also abandon the goal of regime change and temper expectations of democratic transition in Syria in the short-to-medium term. Instead, the focus should be on patiently building democracy.”

He further suggested that crippling sanctions imposed on Syria be removed, writing, “Lifting sanctions will be crucial to solving the huge challenges of reconstruction, unemployment and economic revival. Otherwise, a generation of Syrian children coming of age in the next few years and idle young men now in their 20s will be susceptible to insurgent and extremist recruiters and could resume the war in the next decade.”

A negotiated solution regarding areas of Syria that the government does not currently control, such as rebel held Idlib province, areas of northern Syria under Turkish control and other areas of the north controlled by U.S. supported Kurdish militias bitterly opposed by Turkey, is also vital, according to Carter.

“In July, a Kurdish delegation met with the Syrian government to negotiate a continuation of the de facto autonomy the Kurds secured early in the war,” he wrote, “This was a constructive development, and more such talks should be encouraged. The opposition, which is concentrated in Idlib province, should also explore what is possible through political dialogue. Continuing to fight would be futile. At the same time, determining the fate of the Turkish-occupied territory in northwest Syria will require an international intervention.”

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