According to Secretary of State John Kerry,
That means that Bashar al-Assad will not be part of that transitional government. There is no way, not possible in the imagination, that the man who has lead the brutal response to his own people could regain legitimacy to govern.
That sounds good, especially the last part. But let’s not forget that Assad is still in power because a good chunk of the Syrian people do recognize his legitimacy and support him over the various rebel groups. That Assad is a murderous tyrant and a fool who missed his opportunity to bring a real measure of democracy to Syria doesn’t change that.
More importantly, this leaves Assad little option but to fight to the end. He almost certainly cannot remain in a Syria that has deposed him without facing execution. He almost certainly can’t return to England without facing a war crimes tribunal. Exile is a faint possibility–I’m not sure where he’d go other than possibly Russia or Iran (and who’d want to be an Arab exile in Russia or Iran?), but someone more versed in the Middle East than I might have other suggestions. But it looks to me like Kerry is intentionally backing Assad into a corner, cutting off all his options except to fight to the death.
Is that wise diplomacy? Is it strategic?
Granted, Assad has not left diplomats many options. And granted that it’s not always wrong to take an all or nothing approach. But the U.S. is insisting that Assad must go, that nothing less will be acceptable, while refusing to commit itself fully to supporting the rebels on the ground.
This is a shit or get off the pot moment, but all Kerry did was break wind.