With Russian forces deploying heavily to the Syrian coast, the Syrian war has entered a new phase.
The discussion is no longer about how Assad should step down, nor about the political solution and the impossibility of a military solution. It is now about how Assad can be rehabilitated, for how long - and about which powers he should retain in the interim.
This is a complete U-turn of the international position.
In 2011, diplomatic efforts were focused on fulfilling the demands of the Syrian people, who rose up against a bloody and vicious regime, which immediately responded with violence to peaceful protests.
Since then, the regime has committed countless acts that international organisations have said amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and even genocide against its own people.
As a result, more than 100 nations came together under the Friends of Syria framework, and voted in favour of several UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions condemning Assad and stressing his regime's loss of legitimacy, while recognising the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
International efforts thus focused, in the beginning, on affirming the legitimacy of the demands of the Syrian people, which were endorsed by most of the world's countries, emphasising the need for full political transition towards democracy.
Shift towards the war on terror
Moscow's repeated vetoes at the Security Council obstructed international condemnation of the Syrian regime, but they did not dissuade the world from calling for Assad to step down, in the pursuance of political change in Syria and an end to the regime's mass murder of Syrian civilians.
At the time, the regime was still on the defensive, and most of its allies were too embarrassed to declare their support for Assad, who was under intense political, legal, ethical and even military pressure.
Moscow justified its position by citing the failures of the Iraq and Libya interventions and the so-called legitimacy of the Syrian government.
However, since the collapse of the Geneva process - thanks to Russian and Iranian non-cooperation - the international diplomatic climate gradually started considering the idea of power-sharing between the regime and the opposition, even when the Syrian regime was refusing to acknowledge the existence of the opposition.
The Assad regime and its allies circumvented the central idea of the Geneva process, namely having a transitional governing body with full powers take over in Syria, to undermine the negotiations and buy time in the hope of achieving a military victory and routing the opposition.