U.S. policy in Syria is no longer focused on removing Bashar al-Assad from power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday, indicating a reversal from the previous administration. “You pick and choose your battles and when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” Nikki Haley told reporters. “Do we think he’s a hindrance? Yes. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No,” she said. “We can’t necessarily focus on Assad the way that the previous administration did,” she said, adding that the new priority “is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria.”
Haley’s remarks drew strong criticism from Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who issued separate statements denouncing the comments. McCain said the new U.S. stance ignores the “tragic reality” Syrians face, as they are unable to decide their own fate while they are “being slaughtered.” Graham warned that the new policy would be a “great reward for Russia and Iran” and a “grave mistake.” Read more.