Map of Syria: iStock

Trump’s Middle East agenda looks to a broader strategic deal. Asia Times asked an Administration official about the prospects for a Syrian peace deal after President Trump’s recent meetings with Turkish President Erdogan and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. Off the record, the official said that Trump’s Syria policy departed from that of his predecessor in an important way.

The Obama administration was focused on ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by funding and arming Sunni rebels in Syria. But Russian and Chinese support for Assad, and the intervention of Iran’s military supported by tens of thousands of foreign Shi’ite fighters makes it impractical to force the Syrian dictator out of office.

Trump’s main focus is to stop the bloodshed, rather than to eliminate any individual or party from the Syrian government. Trump was open to the possibility of a deal with Russia to stabilize Syria, provided that the deal did not allow Iran to exploit the situation and increase its regional power.

But the official emphasized that to understand how Trump approaches such negotiation, one should keep in mind his statement in “The Art of the Deal” that you can’t be so wedded to the deal that you are not ready to walk away from it.