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Obama just 'made a scary retreat' in its Syria policy

Obama just 'made a scary retreat' in its Syria policy

By Natasha Bertrand for Business Insider

In a meeting with members of Syria's opposition in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry demanded that rebels accept a set of preconditions dictated by Russia and Iran in order to participate in peace talks, according to an explosive report by thedaily pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

The terms Kerry reportedly asked the opposition Saudi-backed High Negotiation Committee (HNC) to accept — including a "national unity government" instead of a transitional governing body that would phase President Bashar al-Assad out of power — represent "a scary retreat in the US position," opposition sources told the head of Al Hayat's Damascus bureau, Ibrahim Hamidi.

According to translations provided by multiple Middle East analysts on Twitter, Kerry told the opposition delegation that, based on an "understanding" he had reached with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Assad has the right to run for re-election and there will be no set timetable for his departure.

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