Ambassador John Bolton views Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an obstacle to peace. However, he perceives Iran, a powerful Assad ally, as a bigger threat. Bolton will likely avoid confronting Assad directly to prevent a clash with Russia, another principal Assad ally because it is believed that President Trump admires President Putin. Therefore, Bolton may propose weakening Assad indirectly through Iran.
Bolton has previously advocated for regime change in Iran and terminating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He may suggest an “Iran-first” strategy as a way to erode Iranian influence in Syria, although it is unclear if such policies would be endorsed by Trump.