In August 2011, about six months into the civil war that has now been going on in Syria for nearly four years, President Obama issued his most unequivocal statement about the future of its dictator Bashar Assad, who was engaged in an increasingly bloody crackdown:or the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that the State Department had signed off on two separate diplomatic initiatives aimed at bringing about the end of the Syrian civil war. One omission made both proposals particularly notable: Neither contains the prerequisite for the end of Assad's rule.
How the U.S. got from "the time has come for President Assad to step aside" to "it is time for President Assad ... to think about the consequences" can be summed up in large part by the rise of ISIS. The radical Sunni group (and Assad's nominal enemy in Syria) became the target of airstrikes by an American-led coalition after a bloody offensive across Syria and Iraq raised widespread alarm...
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