As the Syrian civil war expands it continues to claim more lives and further poison international relations. The U.S. has taken a totally different position on Syria from the one it adopted in 2011 when President Barack Obama called on the leaders of friendly nations and encouraged them to take urgent measures against President Bashar Assad. However, as the civil war has extended the regional circumstances have changed and Obama has toned down his anti-Assad stance. Obama might still want the removal of Assad but he avoids taking concrete steps to this end.
This might be because the U.S. no longer wants to act as a "policeman" in the Middle East and might prefer to focus further on the developments regarding its domestic politics. Still, this does not explain the reason why Obama advised fellow leaders to take steps against Assad in 2011 and then took a more moderate path. There are different motives that pushed Obama to postpone action and to change his policy. For Americans, this may be because of such commonplace reasons as that Russia resists in Syria as one of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and that the crisis in Ukraine has pushed Syria's plight to the background. Additionally, despite Iran's military existence in Syria, the U.S. seeks to sort out the problem without a military operation. However, the truth of the matter is a bit different.
Since Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) terror broke out in the Middle East we have been facing a different U.S., which has left aside its principle of "not carrying out an operation" and has formed an international coalition against ISIS launching airstrikes against ISIS militants. Moreover, Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) peshmerga forces provide arms aid to the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Protection Units (YPG), which are fighting ISIS in the northern Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. The U.S. regards ISIS as the source of instability and sets a strategy based on ISIS, but it ignores Assad who constitutes one of the mainsprings of regional instability. This is a major shift that cannot be explained by the strategy of "no boots on the ground." The U.S. might be setting a new game in the region, maybe because of Israel's concerns and its efforts of rapprochement with Iran. It may also be driven by the question of who will replace Assad once he is removed. These decisions, which are never effective on ISIS and Assad, harm its relations with its allies, including Turkey.
This toxic atmosphere also has impacts on the U.S.'s domestic politics as Obama faces harsh criticism from inside the U.S. Republicans, who may come into power two years later, breathe fire at Obama due to his policy on Syria. The remarks by two Republican Party senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, in which they praised Turkey's Kobani policies and slam Obama still linger in our memories. It seems that severe criticisms of the Obama administration from inside the country will escalate in the coming days. Even though the criticism has been said behind closed doors for a long time, the white House turns a deaf ear to them. According to sources that closely follow Washington's agenda, American diplomats and bureaucrats express these concerns during private conversations as well. A U.S. official has apologized to his addressees saying that although they have done all their work, Obama has not come up with a decision on Syria. U.S. diplomacy is going through hard times and Obama is making mistakes that may cost a lot and take a long time to repair.