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News that Iran may submit a Syria peace plan to the United Nations combined with ongoing Syria-related talks between Moscow and Washington brings to the fore the perennial question of Bashar Assad, still recognized by the West as presiding over a heap of physical and political wreckage known as the Syrian Arab Republic.Syrians must provide the answer to this question: No one else is qualified to answer it.It may have been logical to assume that no Syrian opposition delegation would ever give its consent to an Assad regime role in a transitional governing body.Were the issue of the regime's role in transitional governing arrangements truly left to Syrians to decide, ideally the answers to a handful of questions would be dispositive: Given the events of the past 53 months, does Assad have the requisite credibility and skill to play a central role in reconstruction, reconciliation and reform?The future of Assad and his regime ought to be determined exclusively by Syrians. Tehran need only decide whether its own Hezbollah-related needs trump the needs of 23 million Syrians. If it decides Syrians come first, a 180-degree policy reversal will be forthcoming.
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