On May 9th, the US and Russia issued a “Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the United States on Syria”, saying that, “The Russian Federation and United States are determined to redouble efforts to reach a political settlement of the Syrian conflict consistent with UNSCR 2254.”
UNSCR 2254, from the UN Security Council, on 18 December 2015, refers several times to, and endorses, “a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition in order to end the conflict in Syria,” and, in one passage, it “stresses that the Syrian people will decide the future of Syria.” It goes on, to state that the Security Council:
Expresses its support, in this regard, for a Syrian-led political process that is facilitated by the United Nations and, within a target of six months, establishes credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and sets a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, and further expresses its support for free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under supervision of the United Nations, to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate.
US President Barack Obama (backed up fully by his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on this) has many times stated, clearly, his opposition to this. For example, the Wall Street Journaleven headlined a news story on 19 November 2015, “Obama Says Syrian Leader Bashar al-Assad Must Go: US President says Syrian civil war won’t end with Assad in power”, and that headline was entirely accurate as a summary of Obama’s repeatedly stated position on war-and-peace in Syria: Assad must go, despite Assad’s being overwhelmingly supported by the Syrian people (something Obama denies, though it has been repeatedly been shown true even in Western polling on the topic — Obama simply lies; he even places this goal (ousting Assad) above his opposition to jihadists taking over Syria; he has specifically been protecting, and sending weapons to, Al Qaeda in Syria).
The most recent Western poll of Syrians was published in English at only a Russian site and headlined (accurately) “Le Figaro poll: Over 70% want Syria’s Assad to remain in power”, and it had been published by Le Figaro on 20 October 2015; but, how many Americans were being informed that their own President was lying to them, if this poll and all the others were being ignored in all of the major US ‘news’ media, and only a few news-sites on the Web made any mention of it — nor of the other Western polls of Syrians, each one of which (going as far back as December of 2011) showed that no potential competitor of Assad enjoyed nearly as much, and as broad-based, support within Syria as he did? Nothing that Obama and his jihadist warriors in Syria were able to do, succeeded at changing that.
President Obama finally suspended his opposition on December 15th of 2015, which allowed UNSCR 2254 to be issued by the Security Council three days later. Obama knew the score all along; he didn’t like it, but he knew about it; and, he finally decided that merely denying it, and feeding the war, was just not going to work.
So, that’s the reason why Obama’s current Secretary of State, John Kerry, finally was able to persuade his boss to allow the peace process to go forward toward a democratic Syria.
The reason, however, why Obama has been opposed to this is that Obama has wanted Assad overthrown since the very moment he first entered the White House on 20 January 2009.
And that’s why Obama continues trying to overthrow Assad, even while yielding to the overwhelming sentiment of other world-leaders, for the jihadists’ war against Assad to end as soon as possible. Hope springs eternal in the human breast, and Obama’s hope remains to crush Assad, just as he had crushed Muammar Gaddafi, and Viktor Yanukovych, and just as George W. Bush had crushed Saddam Hussein — all three of which fallen leaders had been friendly toward Vladimir Putin, whom Obama is very disappointed remains in power, even after US Presidents have removed virtually all of Putin’s Western allies. Overthrowing Putin is the end-goal, and one of the chief means toward that objective has been to strip him of foreign allies. But other means, such as Obama’s proposed ‘trade’ deals, to isolate both Russia and China, might be more successful; and Obama’s step-up in war-preparations on Russia’s northwestern borders is also continuing apace.