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The Assad family, which has been in power since 1970, have relied on Alawites to maintain its stranglehold on Syria.
Turkey has in the past demanded the removal of Assad from power and backed rebels fighting to overthrow him, but it had toned down its demands since it started working with Assad's allies, Russia and Iran, for a political resolution.
Once it became clear that Assad was going nowhere -- that he was successfully militarizing the conflict in a highly sectarian manner -- the White House chose to regard the president's words as advisory in nature.
Assad has actively participated in discharging refugees to other countries amid (http://www.
Although Erdogan is notorious for his wildly unpredictable decision-making, it is more than likely that before going public on his radical change of heart on Assad, he was in touch with the new national security team taking shape in Washington.
Assad also said he is not concerned that Putin and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who travels to Moscow on Thursday, will make a deal that would force him from power.
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that discussions of Assad receiving asylum in Russia were premature.
Antony Blinken, the US deputy secretary of state who spoke Saturday at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, said the US government believes it's only a matter of time before Moscow realizes that its military intervention and its ardent support for Assad's continued rule are mistakes, after which the Russian government could support a political process that includes replacing Assad.
The surprise visit was only revealed after Assad landed back in Syrian capital Damascus yesterday.
According to many observers, especially those in Turkey that strongly oppose the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey's Syria policy has been a failure from the start because of its explicit goal of removing Assad from power as soon as possible.
By necessity, there has always been a need for representatives of the Assad regime to be part of this process," she said within hours of Kerry's comments.
Activists in Syria's Alawite community, to which the Assad clan and the elite in its regime belong, have begun to rebel openly against the dictator.