Throughout the Syrian Civil War, the public US stance has been a demand for unconditional regime change, with an eye toward installing some pro-US faction or other as the new government of Syria.
Behind the scenes, however, the White House spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to court figures in the Assad government, hoping to secure influence over the nation’s government and military, with an eye toward hedging their bets.
Early on, this effort appears to have centered around military leaders, with the US hoping it could orchestrate a coup that would install a friendly military junta that would be able to end the civil war.
This effort failed almost immediately, but the US effort toward establishing contacts didn’t. Since then, the Obama Administration has tried to parlay its influence into pushing Syria toward different US goals at any given time, which has included efforts to contain fighting in some areas, to focus on ISIS, and most recently to have a willingness to negotiate.
Since all of the US efforts are done behind the scenes, its unclear how deep their influence goes, but the effort toward negotiation is probably the most likely to be successful since it comes amid an identical push from Russia, Syria’s overt ally.
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