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Why the U.S. allows Bashar al-Assad to stay in power

(People's Daily Online)    08:22, January 26, 2015

In its campaign against ISIS, the U.S. is uncertain whether to oust Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria. According to American media, the U.S. government has abandoned its requirement that Assad should give up his crown.

To support the air strikes against the ISIS, U.S. President Barack Obama spares no effort to establish two crossed political union "circles".

One arm of US policy is to build a government of high inclusiveness, led by Haider al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq. The U.S. wants to deter Sunni Islam from becoming a source of political support for ISIS. Furthermore, the U.S. aims to drag Iraq's government forces away from ethnic and religious conflicts so that the military can strengthen. Meanwhile, the U.S. hopes to ease relations with Iran to undermine Iranian cooperation with Shia Islam in Iraq and the West.

The U.S. also wants to reinforce moderate opposition in Syria. America is trying to interject the moderate opposition between Assad's government and those supporting ISIS in order to give the moderates a dominant position. The U.S. is also joining forces with the moderates to combat countries supported by Assad's government in the Middle East. In this way, the union against ISIS will have wider international appeal.

If these two policies were operating effectively, ISIS would no longer exist. However, the second arm has encountered serious problems since the expansion of airstrikes began. It is not easy to identify the so-called moderate opposition, and it is hard for that opposition to shoulder the challenges it faces for lack of leadership. Furthermore, the U.S. has refused to deploy ground forces in Syria. Therefore, ISIS controls half of Syria.

America's actions have disappointed its allies in Middle East.

Meanwhile, Obama's government still faces several difficulties. Senior officials who are unsatisfied with policies towards Syria criticize Obama. The Republican Party, with a majority in Congress, is reluctant to authorize Obama to start war in Syria. Polls show that an increasing number of Americans support strikes against ISIS but not the deployment of ground forces. And yet Obama's government faces unprecedented international pressure from public opinion due to the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Therefore, facing the need for tough action against terrorism, the U.S. has chosen to spare Assad to speed up the political reconciliation process in Syria and to render its strikes in the Middle East effective.

The article is edited and translated from 《美国为何不再要求叙利亚总统下台》, source: Beijing News, author: Shi Zehua 

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