The Donald Trump administration believes it has leverage over Russia and Iran to bring the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria back to the negotiating table and rekindle the UN-led peace process.
US Syria envoy Jim Jeffrey this past week said the international community should “pull the plug” on the Russia-led Astana process because of its failure to make progress on a new constitution for the war-torn country. Jeffrey made the remarks at a State Department briefing Monday before traveling to Turkey and Jordan on Tuesday to reassure key American allies in the conflict.
A US official told Al-Monitor that negotiators believe Assad’s weakening economy could force Russia to the bargaining table, as Moscow and Iran will not be willing to put up military forces for the Syrian regime in the long term. The official said the United States is working to coax Russia to influence Assad to create a constitutional committee for the UN-led Geneva process and prevent further violence before the end of the year.
It’s not clear whether renewed US confidence in Assad’s weakness reflects the facts on the ground.
Damascus has regained control over most of the country after a string of military victories. But some analysts say the portion of Syria that the regime controls faces difficulties with inflation, access to health care and increasing unrest among pro-Damascus war veterans, who have struggled to obtain basic services. Meanwhile, Moscow faces significant costs for keeping Assad afloat while Iran is struggling financially due to reimposed US sanctions.
Read the full article and more in Al-Monitor.