Secretary Rex Tillerson delivered very important remarks today in Palm Beach Florida ahead of ongoing discussions with the Chinese delegation and President Xi Jinping meeting with President Donald Trump.
Following the segment by T-Rex outlining the parameters for the meetings today and tomorrow, Tillerson communicated a position of the Trump administration that Syrian leader Bashir Assad should step down from power.
“With the acts that he has taken, it would seem that there would be no rule for [Assad] to govern the Syrian people.
The process by which Assad would leave is something that I think requires and international community effort, both to first defeat ISIS within Syria, to stabilize the Syrian country to avoid further civil war, and then to work collectively with our partners around the world through a political process that would lead to Assad leaving.”
Neither Secretary Tillserson or President Trump are proposing military action to remove Assad. However, the remarks by Secretary Tillerson about Syria and Bashir Assad are a shift in approach, and were almost simultaneously communicated by President Trump (albeit with nuance) aboard Air-Force One en route to Palm Beach. See below:
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump said Thursday that what happened in Syria is “a disgrace to humanity.” Asked if Assad should go, Trump said, “He’s there, and I guess he’s running things so something should happen.” The Syrian remarks are toward the end of this video segment:
In essence ISIS is continuing to be degraded. But what comes after ISIS is eliminated as a threat? It would be imprudent to believe Bashir Assad could remain in power and not see another rise in extremism using him as a polarizing figure, and visible reason for ongoing conflict and jihadist recruitment.
Again, to emphasize, nothing is publicly stated or happens in a vacuum. The remarks by Secretary Tillerson and President Trump should be absorbed around the understanding that dozens of high level and direct conversations have taken place between the Trump administration and key affected regional participants.
Neither Secretary Tillerson, nor President Trump, would be leaning forward on the position to remove Assad politically without that position being the recommendation of the aforementioned “Freedom Alliance“:
♦ Fattah al-Sisi (Egypt), ♦ King Abdullah II (Jordan), ♦ Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel), ♦ Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority), ♦ King Salman and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Saudi Arabia).
My personal summary of this rather stark shift in public positioning leads me to believe the regional assembly of partners that President Trump has assembled have all indicated the removal of Assad is inherently necessary for larger regional efforts toward peace.
Again, Trump and T-Rex would not be taking a position in opposition to the interests of these regional leaders. Too much effort has been invested into the early communication and building of trust amid these regional heads-of-state.
That said, we must reset our perspectives and reassess with the new information provided.
Thinking in larger terms, the discussion about who to blame for the chemical attack, and the political removal of Bashir Assad are not mutually exclusive. Meaning, it is quite possible for President Trump and the U.S. team to understand it was NOT Assad who carried out the attack, and yet still use the appearance of Assad’s culpability (compromised position) to gain the political leverage for Assad to step down.
This reality is, in my opinion, what we are seeing.
MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Thursday that Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad is not unconditional, but that the country demands a full investigation of the suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held province in Syria before the United Nations takes any action.
[…] Peskov told The Associated Press in an interview that “unconditional support is not possible in this current world,” but added that “it is not correct to say that Moscow can convince Mr. Assad to do whatever is wanted in Moscow. This is totally wrong.” (link)