The head of the US Central Intelligence Agency has said he is not optimistic about the future of Syria remaining one country.
John Brennan’s comments are a rare public acknowledgment by a senior US official that Syria may not survive a five-year civil war in its current state.
“I don’t know whether or not Syria can be put back together again,” he said on Friday at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
“There’s been so much blood spilled, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to get back to [a unified Syria] in my lifetime.”
Brennan said he is not “convinced at all that the Iranian Gen. Soleimani is trying to take those sectarian tensions down” as he “has been taking a leading role for Iran and Quds Brigade inside Iraq , Syria and other areas.”
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, expressed similar fears in February, saying he would move towards a “Plan B” that could involve a partition of Syria if a ceasefire did not materialize in advance of peace talks in March.
“It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if we wait much longer,” Kerry told the US Senate foreign relations committee.
However, he did not directly advocate for partition as a solution.
Several weeks later, Staffan de Mistura, UN envoy to Syria, said the possibility of a federal division of the country had not been taken off the table.
At the time, major powers close to the UN-brokered talks discussed a potential federal break-up of the country, which would grant broad autonomy to regional authorities, while maintaining the country’s unity as a single state.
“All Syrians have rejected the division [of Syria] and federalism can be discussed at the negotiations,” De Mistura told Al Jazeera in March.
More than 450.000 Syrians were killed during the past 5 years, and 12 millions were driven out of their homes. 7 million Syrians are now refugees around the globe.