The U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Tuesday that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump should help push forward against the Bashar al-Assad-led authoritarian regime, and seek political reforms to stop ISIS from gaining more war-driven recruits.
Russia has maintained its strong and weaponized support for Assad— while the United States has said Assad must leave power under any political transition.
De Mistura said Assad and his team were probably “feeling comfortable” at the moment, but they should be aware that Russia had no interest in “inheriting” a broken Syria with constant guerrilla warfare for years ahead.
“By the way, President Putin himself has told me … that he has told Assad twice: ‘Listen, we are helping you, but there is a moment when we will be expecting you to actually apply a political devolution’,” de Mistura said.
Speaking on the BBC’s Hardtalk programme,de Mistura said it was crucial to fight the hardline group ISIS, but a long-term victory required “a completely new approach” to a political solution.
“In other words, some type of political devolution in Syria. Otherwise many other people, unhappy in Syria, may join ISIS while they are fighting ISIS,” he said.
De Mistura presided over a fitful Syrian peace process in the first half of this year, but it finally stalled because cooperation collapsed between its two chief backers, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Although the U.N. Security Council has directed a political transition process, Assad’s regime continues to refuse considering any formula that might involve a dilution of his power.
The European Union was also working on a plan to rebuild Syria, conditional on political devolution, probably with help from the World Bank, de Mistura said, but the exact meaning of devolution needed to be discussed by the Russians and Americans.