51 US diplomats: it’s time for strikes against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad

An attack on Syria means an attack on Iran, as they have a mutual defense pact.

An attack on either also means awakening the thousands of sleeper cells within the United States that have been there for decades or longer. If you thought the Orlando massacre was bad enough, imagine 50 to 100 of those of equal or greater intensity in a single day — maybe for a straight week or more.


Washington: More than 50 State Department diplomats have signed an internal memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar Assad to stop its persistent violations of a cease-fire in the country’s five-year-old civil war.

The memo, a draft of which was provided to The New York Times by a State Department official, says US policy has been “overwhelmed” by the unrelenting violence in Syria. It calls for “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed US-led diplomatic process.”

Such a step would represent a radical shift in the administration’s approach to the civil war in Syria, and there is little evidence that President Barack Obama has plans to change course. Obama has emphasised the military campaign against the Islamic State over efforts to dislodge Assad. Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, have all but collapsed.

But the memo, filed in the State Department’s “dissent channel,” underscores the deep rifts and lingering frustration within the administration over how to deal with a war that has killed more than 400,000 people.

The names on the memo are almost all mid-level officials – many of them career diplomats – who have been involved in the administration’s Syria policy over the last five years, at home or abroad. They range from a Syria desk officer in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs to a former deputy to the US ambassador in Damascus.

While there are no widely recognised names, higher-level State Department officials are known to share their concerns. Kerry, himself, has pushed for stronger action against Syria, in part to force a diplomatic solution on Assad. The president has resisted such pressure and has been backed up by his military commanders, who have raised questions about what would happen in the event that Assad was forced from power – a scenario that the draft memo does not address.

Robert S. Ford, a former ambassador to Syria, said, “Many people working on Syria for the State Department have long urged a tougher policy with the Assad government as a means of facilitating arrival at a negotiated political deal to set up a new Syrian government.”

The memo acknowledged that military action would have risks, not the least further tensions with Russia, which has intervened in the war on Assad’s behalf and helped negotiate a cease-fire. The officials insisted that they were not “advocating for a slippery slope that ends in a military confrontation with Russia,” but rather a credible threat of military action to keep Assad in line.

Full article: 51 US diplomats: it’s time for strikes against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad (The Age)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s