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Moscow wants the transitional entity to be a national unity government: a prime minister and Cabinet taking orders from President Bashar Assad. Washington would reportedly accept the national unity government approach provided Assad's constitutional powers and tenure were limited. Early in the Syrian crisis there was interest in Washington and among the Arab Gulf States in an "Ali Abdullah Saleh solution" for Syria. From Russia's perspective, Assad personifies the state it has rescued from American regime change machinations; all that is required now is for President Barack Obama to acknowledge that Assad is Syria's legitimate chief executive and a partner in the battle against Daesh (ISIS).On one level, therefore, it seems perfectly rational for Washington to apply its notion of the diplomatic art of the possible to Syria: as Kerry reportedly put it to a group of European interlocutors, to find a "creative role" for Assad. Is it possible the United States has confused Syria with Sweden?Perhaps Assad could suppress his laughter long enough to be sworn in as Syria's constitutional equivalent of the queen of England or the president of Israel.
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