Defence minister: removing Assad no longer realistic – The Post

Defence minister: removing Assad no longer realistic

Russia’s close ties with Syria makes deposition untenable, but division of the country could be an option

Russian support scuppers any plans to oust Assad (photo: Presidential Press and Information Office)
January 23rd, 2017 11:58 am| by Christian W

Deposing Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, is no longer a viable option, according to the defence minister, Claus Hjort Frederiksen.

In an interview with DR Nyheder, Frederiksen said that deposing Assad was not a priority of the Danish government. Eradicating the jihadist organisation Islamic State (IS) is the principal goal, he said.

“We might want Assad gone, but we need to face reality. We are not at war against Assad,” Frederiksen told DR Nyheder.

“That’s the gist of the situation. The aid that Russia provides Assad means he has attained a completely different level of strength.”

READ MORE: Denmark wants boots on the ground against IS

Dividing Syria?
Frederiksen did, however, contend that Assad would not gain control of all of Syria, citing that the dictator has control of the western part of the war-torn nation, while the Kurds control the east. The Free Syrian Army is in the north.

The minister would not say whether Denmark would support an initiative that would divide Syria up in the future, with Assad maintaining control of the western part of the country.

Whatever happens, a “massive stabilisation job” in the region is unavoidable in the future should Islamic State be defeated.

The news comes days after the government revealed it was looking for majority support in Parliament to insert special forces at the border between Iraq and Syria as part of the struggle against IS.