The US government must recognize that the only way to settle the Syrian conflict and bring humanitarian relief to its victims is through cooperation with Moscow, former White House Senior Director on Russian Affairs Thomas Graham said in a speech at the McCain Institute.
“Russia is there [Syria]… on the ground and you can’t go around them. There is no way to avoid [it],” Graham stated on Thursday. “I don’t see we have more options than to deal with the Russians.”
Graham, now managing director of Kissinger Associates, claimed that US policy had failed to separate the moderate opposition forces fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government from the Nusra Front.
“We have promised to separate the moderate opposition from al-Nusra. Have we done that? No,” Graham said. “Can we do that? No, that’s the reality.”
Graham also recommended that the US government abandon its insistence that Assad must be immediately removed from office.
A US-Russian brokered ceasefire broke down in early September because of a series of violations in tandem with Washington’s inability to delink legitimate opposition factions from terrorist groups as promised — and as stipulated in the accord.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow had suspicions that some forces would like to keep the Nusra Front as an effective power in Syria to possibly use it to overthrow the government in Damascus.