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On May 20, 2016, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu proposed that the United States and Russia coordinate airstrikes against Nusra Front positions in northwestern Syria.The ultimate Russian objective is to ease Washington into an anti-terror relationship with Bashar Assad: the personification (from Russia's standpoint) of a "state" Moscow has pledged to rescue not only from "terrorism," but from the alleged regime-change agenda of the United States. Russian President Vladimir Putin made much of this theme at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2015, just before intervening militarily in Syria on Assad's behalf. Although the actual behavior of the Obama administration toward Assad belies any official American interest in violent regime change, Putin pretends the threat is real. President Obama could give his Russian counterpart what he wants: his acknowledgement that Assad is the recognized President of the Syrian Arab Republic (something the United States perversely recognizes anyway) and his readiness to work with Assad and Russia militarily against terrorists in Syria, starting perhaps with Daesh. President Putin could give his American counterpart what he would presumably want: his guarantee that Assad and perhaps 50 of the regime's archcriminals would be gone from Syria in say 90 days.
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