With some progress apparently being made in the peace talks, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he believes a new constitution could be ready in a matter of weeks and a new unity government, including both the existing government and rebel factions, could be formed with little difficulty.
Convincing the rebels, such as they are, may not be the tough part, however, as the White House was quick to condemn Assad’s comments, and to warn that the US will never recognize any Syrian government that includes Assad.
The US has made regime change their stated goal in Syria for years, and has been bankrolling a series of not particularly successful rebel outfits to try to see that happen. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest insisted a government including Assad is an “obvious” non-starter.
Exactly what the US can do about it is unclear, however, as they already backed the peace process that seems to be leading to that government, and grousing about the Syrian decision to unify after advocating unification talks probably won’t win them a lot of fans.
Assad suggested the new government would include a cabinet primarily of technocrats, and gave the impression that the draft constitution would give way to free elections, something Russia has advocated as a route to ending the civil war, and which the US has insisted they would condition on banning Assad and certain of his allies from participation.