The Syrian American Council (SAC), a Syrian American grassroots organization, calls upon President Trump to ensure a transition in Syria that removes dictator Bashar al-Assad from power, after a series of contradictory remarks by Secretary of State Tillerson on the matter. On Wednesday, a statement by Tillerson on Syrian negotiations made no mention of Assad's departure and only vaguely described "a settlement that charts a way forward." But Tillerson Friday affirmed that "We see no long term role for the Assad family or the Assad regime."
SAC believes that for America to focus solely on ISIS without placing pressure on Assad to leave power would be a grave mistake. Syria will not be stable and terror will not be defeated while Assad remains in power, because Assad himself is a catalyst for terror. He sheltered Al-Qaeda in Iraq throughout the 2000s and destabilized the entire region by slaughtering over 500,000 civilians. He has deliberately targeted Syrian rebel groups that fight ISIS and remains highly dependent on Iran and Hezbollah.
SAC also urges President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson to avoid an undue role for Russia in the peace process. It should be recalled that the Russian military is not a neutral arbiter, but a party to the conflict that has committed war crimes and slaughtered thousands of Syrian civilians. An extensive Russian peacekeeping presence in opposition areas will never be a recipe for stability.
SAC therefore finds rumors and reports of a Russian peacekeeping role in Idlib and Deraa to be disturbing.
Trump was correct when he referred to Bashar al-Assad as a "butcher" following the Khan Sheikhoun chemical massacre and noted that "Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically." To ensure the success of ongoing negotiations, Trump should take real steps to empower the Syrian people and pressure Assad to leave power.