US Says It Will ‘Never’ Normalize Relations With Syria’s Assad

The US is unhappy that some of its Middle East allies are starting to normalize with Assad

President Biden’s Middle East coordinator on the National Security Council said Thursday that the US will “never” normalize relations with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“We do not support normalization with the Assad regime. We are never going to normalize with the Assad regime. We’ve been very clear with that,” Brett McGurk said at a virtual event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

McGurk’s comments come as some of the US’s Middle East allies are accepting the fact that Assad isn’t going anywhere. Some members of Congress recently sent a letter to President Biden, calling on him to prevent Syria’s reintegration with other Arab nations.

Syria is under crushing US sanctions designed to prevent the country from rebuilding after over 10 years of war. Under the sanctions, the US can also target any person or entity for doing business with the Syrian government and helping the reconstruction effort.

In October, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated outright that it was official US policy to “oppose the reconstruction of Syria” unless there is “irreversible progress toward a political solution,” which is State Department jargon for regime change.

McGurk said that the US should discourage its allies from normalizing, although he said distinctions should be drawn. “If Jordan, a neighbor, wants to have a discussion about border security with Syria, obviously we’re not going to say no,” he said. “That’s very different than normalization with the Assad regime. And I think we ought to draw that distinction when we have these conversations.”

McGurk previously served as the US envoy for the US-led anti-ISIS coalition during the Trump administration. In 2018, he resigned in protest after President Trump said he would withdraw from Syria, something that never happened. There are currently about 900 US troops occupying areas of eastern Syria where most of the country’s oil fields are.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.