"Certainly, this is a very significant shift, at least on a formal level," he said, adding that Washington's strategy in Syria de facto changed when John Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton as the US Secretary of State. As a result, the US attitude has increasingly become more aligned "with the Russian rhetoric and the Russian approach," the analyst said.
Moscow has always maintained that the Syrians are the only ones who can determine the fate of their country and chose its government, a stark contrast to what the United States and its allies said was the right way to resolve the devastating war. High-ranking US and European officials have long demanded President Bashar al-Assad step down, claiming that this was a necessary precondition to launch the peace process.
However, on Thursday, US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley reiterated that policymakers in the United States still viewed Assad as "a hindrance," but added that "our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out." Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Assad's status "will be decided by the Syrian people."
These comments appear to confirm what the Trump administration singled as its highest foreign policy priority, namely defeating Daesh and other jihadist groups.
Trombetta, who specializes in contemporary Syrian history, explained that Washington's decision appears to have partially come in response to the changes which have taken place on the Syrian battleground.
"The Trump administration is moving forward in saying that it is no longer interested in regime change to a certain extent because the regional context has changed," the analyst said, referring to Russia's achievements in its limited military engagement in Syria.
Moscow launched its operation on September 30, 2015, following a formal request from Damascus. The country has been credited with helping President Bashar al-Assad turn the tide of war. In particular, Russia's support has been instrumental in liberating Aleppo, one of the largest cities in Syria, as well as the ancient ruins of Palmyra.
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