Defense News quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Senior Fellow Frederic C. Hof on Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent trip to Moscow to discuss the crisis in Syria, and what was meant by his discussion of “regime change”:

Frederic Hof, a former senior adviser on Syria for the Obama administration, now with the Atlantic Council, cautioned that Kerry’s comments on “regime change” may have been meant in the specific way it was used in Iraq — i.e., a military intervention — and not the broader desire to remove Assad.

“Ever since President Obama told Bashar al-Assad to step aside in August 2011 the American objective has been to see a murderous Assad regime replaced by something inclusive and civilized,” Hof told Defense News. “The administration dreams of a united Syrian front — army and rebels — providing the missing ground combat component against ISIL. The dream can’t become reality with Assad — the barrel-bomber-in-chief — still in the saddle.”

Like Ashford, Hof wonders if Kerry is trying to find common ground with his statements.

“Kerry may have been trying to make nice with his Russian hosts, who decry ‘regime change’ at every opportunity,” Hof noted. “The  [US government] wants Assad gone. It hopes Russia will help. That hope is, in my view, not very realistic. But John Kerry has a lot of confidence in his own charisma.”

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