Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Syria’s challenge

Little movement toward democracy or the departure of President Bashar Assad

In Syria, there appears to be little movement toward democracy or the departure of President Bashar Assad.

The Assad regime seems to be fulfilling its pledge to relinquish its chemical weapons for destruction, although it is behind schedule. The fighting between government forces and the different groups that make up the armed opposition seems to be dying down.

Less positively, millions of refugees have fled from Syria to neighboring Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. The war has left thousands dead and wounded.

The government is talking about holding elections in the parts of the country it controls by midsummer. Mr. Assad will be a candidate and the likely victor, but there also will probably be other presidential candidates.

The three-year-old conflict is not a triumph for President Obama, who prematurely declared Mr. Assad’s reign to be over. It is not a triumph for U.S. and global diplomacy, which sought unsuccessfully to achieve a negotiated end.

There may still be a role for diplomacy in reconciling the conflict’s parties. That will require Syrians to make a serious effort to put their country back together.

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