Washington (CNN) One of America’s top former generals compared the situation in Syria Tuesday to a historic nuclear disaster, implicitly criticizing the U.S. for allowing it to worsen, and accused Russia’s President of trying to re-establish an empire.
Retired Gen. David Petraeus, testifying before the Senate Armed Service Committee, also recommended that the U.S. establish safe zones for Sunnis inside Syria and potentially put American boots on the grounds in Iraq to stop the spread of ISIS.
The former commanding general of U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan equated the situation in Syria today with one of the most deadly nuclear accidents in history.
Syria “is a geopolitical Chernobyl — spewing instability and extremism over the region and the rest of the world,” Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee, referencing the 1986 nuclear meltdown in the former Soviet Union. “Like a nuclear disaster, the fallout from the meltdown of Syria threatens to be with us for decades, and the longer it is permitted to continue, the more severe the damage will be.”
Part of the solution to stabilizing the situation inside Syria would entail helping to protect large swaths of the Sunni population from bombing by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in order to bring in more willing partners to fight ISIS.
“They are not going to be willing to be supported by us if we’re not going to support them when they’re under attack by Bashar, as well as when they’re under attack by ISIS (or) Jabhat al-Nusra,” and other al Qaeda-sponsored groups in Syria, Petraeus said.
“Across the Middle East today, the old order is collapsing,” said Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the committee. “This regional disintegration has only been made worse by a failure of U.S. strategy and leadership to shape events in this vital part of the world for the better.”
“Russia’s recent military escalation in Syria is a further reminder that when the U.S. does not take the initiative, others will fill the vacuum, often in ways that are harmful to our interest,” Petraeus said.
Russian moves in Syria are designed to bolster and hold on to their naval base and airstrip along the Mediterranean coast of Syria, and shore up the al-Assad regime in order to preserve Russian influence in the Middle East, Petraeus said.
“I think that what Vladimir Putin would like to do is resurrect the Russian empire,” he said.
Full article: Petraeus accuses Putin of trying to re-establish Russian Empire (CNN)