For the first time since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, President Bashar al-Assad has made an overseas visit, arriving in Moscow Tuesday evening to discuss the ongoing Russian aid in the battle against ISIS.
US officials expressed outrage at the visit, saying Russia was “emboldening” Assad by allowing him to visit, and claiming it was at odds with Russia’s previous support for a transitional government. They went on to say that the war would be lengthened by the visit.
From Russia’s perspective, however, Assad’s visit is likely not particularly controversial, as the nations have been allies for decades and are allied in the ISIS war. Indeed, Russian officials presented it as hope for a long-term solution in the ongoing conflict, and briefed Saudi, Jordanian and Turkish leaders after the visit.
Russia has previously suggested a transitional unity government, but one that includes Assad and his faction. Assad’s allies have expressed openness at this, but pro-US rebels which were expected to be included have not, and indeed with those factions vowing war against Russia the plan is probably dead.