Slowly but surely, establishment policy wonks accepting idea that demanding Assad’s departure before negotiations is unworkable
Add Carnegie to the list.
My two pieces calling for this in 2011 an 2012:
“In Syria, We Need to Bargain with the Devil”/January 2012
“A Third Way on Syria Is Possible”/May 2011
From Carnegie’s :
“…The P5+1 format would require that the U.S. put aside the condition that Assad must step down prior to or as a result of the settlement talks. In fact, recent U.S. statements suggest there is some flexibility in the U.S. position on this issue. U.S. willingness to stop insisting on Assad’s departure and agree to address this issue in the future would open the possibility of creating a real coalition to defeat ISIL and a political solution for the Syrian war, which are the key U.S. goals, shared by Russia, Iran, Europe and—yes—Assad.
Other parties to the conflict—Turkey, Saudi Arabia, other Persian Gulf States—may complain about Iran’s role and Assad remaining in power for now. But in all the years of the war in Syria, they have offered no solution to the crisis, and no way to stop the bloodshed. They should have a voice, but they should not be in a position to block the talks.