Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey says the United States is not providing Syrian rebels what they would need to win the war against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Dempsey’s remarks keep the chairman — a former division commander in the Iraq war — on familiar footing, as he leads top Pentagon generals skeptical of using direct U.S. military force to aid Syrian rebels or otherwise intervene militarily in Syria’s future because of the country’s anticipated long-term security needs after any initial conflict. Dempsey outlined specifically why he believes Syria’s rebels need far more than a rescue mission.
“They need the force they have now, which is trying to protect local villages and try to harass the regime and level the playing field. They need something that eventually will be able to hold ground. And they need a counterterror capability — all of which is responsive to Syrians,” Dempsey said Wednesday at the Atlantic Council, a NATO-oriented think tank in Washington,D.C. “And we are not on a path currently to provide that.”
“That’s the conversation that we need to have,” Dempsey said, but not unilaterally, instead calling for countries in the region to face the reality of those needs. “It’s Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad,” Dempsey said.
From the outset of Syria’s civil war — despite its growth in to a multi-year conflict claiming more than 100,000 lives and dispersing millions into neighboring Middle East states — Dempsey and senior U.S. military leaders, including Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff and former commander of the Iraq war, in their efforts to prepare military options in Syria for President Barack Obama, have publicly questioned the purpose of American troops in Syria after an Assad defeat.
In Syria, government forces have regained control of Homs, the country’s third-largest city, where a 2-year siege has residents feeling like the war is over, according to the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, France alleged Syria has conducted more than one dozen chemical attacks since the United States opted against military strikes last fall, and Lakhdar Brahimi, the top United Nations negotiator on Syria resigned Tuesday, signaling the West’s frustration at getting Syria’s fighting factions toward any political solution and fears that much more conflict is likely to come.
“Look, if Assad took his family and all of his cronies and departed Syria today, how does that country — how does it articulate itself?” Dempsey said.
“I’ve heard it described as a succession of conflicts. You have the conflict that currently exists; then there’ll be the second conflict, which is kind of an internal conflict; and then there’ll be the third conflict against the terrorist organizations that are growing,” he said. “That’s probably right.”
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."