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Will Assad Leave Office Before Obama?

(Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)
(Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

Year after year after year, Barack Obama has said Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad must go.  

But with a year and a half before the president leaves office, the White House staff isn’t able to articulate a strategy to ensure the autocrat leaves before their boss does.  

With the near total failure of Obama’s effort to train and equip a moderate Syrian force to take on both the Islamic State terror group and Assad, the White House has been trying to blame its critics who demanded a more robust effort to aid the rebels years ago and avoid a mea culpa for the meltdown of that country that has sent refugees fleeing. When asked Friday by CQ Roll Call, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest couldn’t name any specific, tangible new effort by the administration that would ensure Assad would leave before Jan. 20, 2017, although he said the president has asked the Pentagon to see what can be done to make the existing strategy more effective.  

For years, the White House podium has relied on the emergence of a vetted, moderate rebel army to both take on Assad and extremists, but that dream now appears to be a fantasy given years of effort have only yielded a handful of fighters in the field while Russia, which has long backed Assad, lands fighters and sends troops to Syria.  

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