That certainly is a concern, and of course, we know from experience how it can turn out.
I think what they would have to look at, with Russia onside, is a solution where Assad and some of his top aides depart so they can still maintain the basis of government structure already in place. As you say, a good portion of the country support Assad — leaving the bulk of the government in place could be the middle ground which keeps things from collapsing into chaos.
At least the Syrian people would have a chance of working towards an elected democracy.
Russia would never go along with trying to install a government who wasn’t friendly to them, so I believe this would be their best chance of working out a diplomatic solution.
If they can negotiate that, then the U.S. needs to get the hell out of there. If there is no longer Western backed ‘moderate rebels’ being supplied and funded, The Syrian (Iranian) army, with Russian assistance if needed, would not have much problem chasing out the remainder.
Russia’s cooperation is going to be crucial as one concern of the entire Arab world is the power the Iranians have established — they are going to have to make it clear, and work towards a true Syrian army that isn’t controlled by Iran.
Iran had initially said they were only there to support Syria, but many believe getting rid of the strong Iranian control is going to be more of a problem.
The West and their allies in the area are going to have to face the reality their presence, at that point, is no longer helpful — staying involved after they’ve achieved their goal of getting rid of Assad would make things worse.
To carry it a step further — they could then have their anti-ISIS coalition with Russia and start actually trying to get rid of them in Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya, etc. providing the games stop, meaning the ‘saying’ you want them eradicated but still funding them can’t keep happening.
This solution may sound naïve, and it could be, but I’ve been doing research on the opinions being raised by their local media. This is one train of thought which sounded the most plausible to me.
Admittedly, this is a complex mess with no one simple, quick, or perfect solution. The West, and the U.S. in particular, have made some really poor decisions in this area. Trump is going to have to make some choices which aren’t necessarily going to be popular with American cohorts in the area, but if he really wants peace, he’s going to have to break from the intervention policies of the past.
Thanks for your comment.