1 April 2017   Leave a comment

The US has openly changed its policy on Syria, acknowledging for the first time that it now accepts the continued rule of President Assad in Syria.  Sean Spicer, in his White House Briefing on 31 March 2017 made the following comments:

“Q    And then can you clear up where the President stands on whether Bashar Assad is the legitimate President of Syria?

MR. SPICER:  Well, I think with respect to Assad, there is a political reality that we have to accept in terms of where we are right now.  We lost a lot of opportunity the last administration with respect to Assad.  And I think that our statement that both U.N. Ambassador Haley gave yesterday and Secretary of State Tillerson reflects the reality that it’s now up to the Syrian people.

We had an opportunity and we need to focus on now defeating ISIS.  But the United States has profound priorities in Syria and Iraq, and we made it clear that counterterrorism, particularly the defeat of ISIS, is foremost among those priorities.  And that’s why our forces in the global coalition are partnering with local forces against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

But I mean — I think there is a bit of political reality with respect to where we are now versus where we were the last administration in terms of there being a potential — there is not the opposition that existed last time and the opportunities that existed last time.”

This position represents a significant change from the position taken by US President Obama on 18 August 2011:

“The United States cannot and will not impose this transition upon Syria. It is up to the Syrian people to choose their own leaders, and we have heard their strong desire that there not be foreign intervention in their movement. What the United States will support is an effort to bring about a Syria that is democratic, just, and inclusive for all Syrians. We will support this outcome by pressuring President Assad to get out of the way of this transition, and standing up for the universal rights of the Syrian people along with others in the international community.”

The change also represents a significant victory for Russia and Iran and a repudiation of the positions taken by US allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.  It also remains to be seen whether President Assad has the power and legitimacy to rule Syria in the future.  The new position of the US is a significant concession to realpolitik, but it also represents a very short-term definition of the what the US national interest in the Middle East might be.

 

Venezuela has experienced years of political turmoil, but in recent days it appears as if the situation has deteriorated to a point where one could easily argue that the country lacks a government.  The Supreme Court, filled with judges loyal to President Maduro, had recently ruled that all legislative powers of the Congress were suspended and had reverted to the Court itself.  Faced with an incredible backlash from its citizens and from governments all over the world, the Court has backed down and restored most of the powers of Congress.  Protests have also broken out in Paraguay, as there were efforts to remove constitutional term limits on the President.   Those limits had been created in 1992 in order to avoid a repeat of the 35-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner whose rule was destructive of the country’s economy and politics.

Protests in Venezuela

 

France will be holding national elections in late April and early May and the current top two candidates, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, offer stark contrasts toward the European Union (EU).  In a rrecent campaign speech, Le Pen, the candidate of the right wing National Front Party, said: ““The European Union will die!  The time has come to defeat the globalists.”  Macron, on the other hand, is a firm supporter of the EU.  It to be seen whether other issues, such as immigration, will be more important to French voters, but after the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, this election will provide some evidence as to how far major liberal powers have swung away from the liberal world order.

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Posted April 1, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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