U.S. Threat Needed to Avoid Syria Stalling, Lawmakers Say
The U.S. must maintain a credible military threat against the Syrian government to prevent stalling tactics when it comes to securing and dismantling chemical weapons, the leaders of the House intelligence committee said.
“I believe you need a credible military threat in order to continue to have a negotiated success,” Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and chairman of the panel, said during a conference in Washington today.
“This gives them time to dig in, to engage in denial and deception campaigns on the ground about their chemical weapons programs,” he said. It also sends “a pretty dangerous message to the opposition” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will remain power, he said.
President Barack Obama’s administration has agreed to hold off on launching military strikes against Assad’s government to determine if Putin’s proposal can lead to a diplomatic solution.
The U.S. should enforce a timeline for Assad to surrender the weapons, Representative C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger of Maryland, the intelligence committee’s top Democrat, said at the conference hosted by the Arlington, Virginia-based Intelligence and National Security Alliance.
“I think we need time limitations,” Ruppersberger said. “If this is a stalling tactic then we have to continue on with the present course or nothing is going to happen. That is our leverage.”
Rogers said Russia has “a military and strategic interest in keeping a footprint” in Syria. “They’re concerned about losing a strategic asset,” he said.
Syria is Russia’s only Arab ally. The two nations have had close ties since Assad’s father came to power in a bloodless coup in 1970. Russia maintains its only military base outside the former Soviet Union at Syria’s Mediterranean port of Tartus.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Strohm in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at firstname.lastname@example.org