Firstly, he needs to recognise the difference between the causes and effects of the Syrian war. Although ISIS is a brutal part of the war, it is not the major problem. ISIS did not start the war. In 2011, protesters took to the street to peacefully call on Assad to step down, however Assad responded by killing civilians with chemical weapons, barrel bombs and torture. He became even more aggressive when the international community failed to act. ISIS took advantage of the situation, so to remove ISIS will not change the main issue which is Assad’s regime.
Shifting to a pro-Assad stance will not work. As Assad’s regime is the core problem in Syria, supporting it would create a surge in Islamists who are anti-America. It would also make the US look uncertain and indecisive. Iran would see this as another weak spot that it would use to embolden its regime even more. The Iranian regime has already caused havoc at home and is meddling heavily in the affairs of other countries in the region, even despite the nuclear deal that was signed.
Iran has been supplying Assad’s regime with arms and manpower – supporting a regime that would have collapsed a long time ago if they had not stepped in.
President Obama has left his post surrounded by feelings of abandonment. He has managed to abandon regional allies, but support opponents like Cuba and Iran. The US needs to change this and go back to supporting regional allies such as Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
However, most importantly, Iran needs to be contained in order for the conflict in Syria to deescalate. The US needs to be more assertive in its approach to Iran. The Obama administration let Iran away with ignoring international accords and with ignoring the terms of the Iran nuclear deal. In return, the Obama administration ignored the human rights issue in Iran. It turned a blind eye to the torture and execution that takes place on a daily basis in Iran.
Moving forward, the US needs to act from a place of strength, not weakness, as Donald Trump himself said. Being indecisive allows others to take advantage of this weakness.