Russia proposed an opportunity for Syria's dictator to step down in 2012 and President Obama refused.
Ahtisaari held talks with envoys from the five permanent members of the UN security council in February 2012. He said that during those discussions, the Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, laid out a three-point plan, which included a proposal for Assad to cede power at some point after peace talks had started between the regime and the opposition.
But he said that the US, Britain and France were so convinced that the Syrian dictator was about to fall, they ignored the proposal.
The American Interest puts the blame on Obama.
f true, this was a staggering missed opportunity. The President's string of misjudgments on the Middle East--on the peace process, Erdogan, withdrawal from Iraq, Libya, ISIS as the "J.V. team", and Syria--is one of the most striking examples of serial failure in the annals of American foreign policy.
Generally speaking, what the President seems worst at is estimating the direction in which events are flowing. He thought Erdogan was taking Turkey in one direction; Erdogan was going somewhere else. He thought there was a transition to democracy in Egypt; there never was a prospect of that. He has repeatedly been caught flatfooted by events in Syria. And Putin keeps running rings around him.
Worst President Ever.