Senators Urge Obama to Rethink Syria Policy

The bipartisan group says boosting humanitarian efforts is no longer enough.

Women shout slogans during a demonstration gathering activists, including Syrians living in Turkey, opposed to Syria's regime of President Bashar al-Assad after the Friday prayers on July 29, 2011 in front of the Syrian consulate in Istanbul. Assad's forces have killed at least 1,486 civilians since the anti-regime uprising began in mid-March, according to rights groups. AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
March 14, 2014, 3:19 p.m.

As the three-year an­niversary of Syr­ia’s civil war ap­proaches, a bi­par­tis­an group of sen­at­ors has a mes­sage for Pres­id­ent Obama: It’s time for a new strategy on Syr­ia.

Nine sen­at­ors used a let­ter on Fri­day to urge the pres­id­ent to “press for­ward” with the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “reex­am­in­a­tion” of its policy, adding that while they have backed hu­man­it­ari­an aid ef­forts, “events on the ground are prov­ing that this is not enough.”

The let­ter was signed by Sens. Robert Men­en­dez, D-N.J.; Bob Cork­er, R-Tenn.; Carl Lev­in, D-Mich.; James In­hofe, R-Okla.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; John Mc­Cain, R-Ar­iz.; Chris­toph­er Coons, D-Del.; Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C.; and An­gus King, I-Maine.

Des­pite fre­quent con­gres­sion­al grid­lock, they write, they “be­lieve there is still strong, bi­par­tis­an sup­port in the Sen­ate for de­vel­op­ing and im­ple­ment­ing a com­pre­hens­ive Syr­ia strategy” that could pave the way for Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad to be re­moved from power and let mod­er­ate op­pos­i­tion groups lead dur­ing the trans­ition to a new gov­ern­ment.

But the sen­at­ors are vague on de­tails of what that strategy should en­tail, writ­ing in­stead that the “cur­rent bal­ance of power” needs to be changed so that As­sad “no longer be­lieves he can re­main Syr­ia’s ruler.”

They add that the mod­er­ate op­pos­i­tion forces and the Syr­i­an Op­pos­i­tion Co­ali­tion — a band of op­pos­i­tion groups — should be giv­en “en­hanced sup­port” to help “sus­tain their mo­mentum and pre­vent the es­tab­lish­ment of ter­ror­ist safe havens throughout north Syr­ia.”

Kaine, Men­en­dez, and King also backed a res­ol­u­tion in­tro­duced Thursday that calls for an in­crease in hu­man­it­ari­an ac­cess and a de­crease in vari­ous forms of vi­ol­ence. The res­ol­u­tion also calls for the pres­id­ent to present a strategy to Con­gress with­in three months that deals with how the United States is go­ing to tackle Syr­ia’s hu­man­it­ari­an needs and deal with hu­man-rights vi­ol­a­tions with­in the coun­try and the re­gion.

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP’S ATTORNEY WAS SET TO TESTIFY ON WEDNESDAY
Senate Intel Postpones Testimony by Cohen
2 days ago
THE LATEST
AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED CONSIDERATION
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Source:
INTERVIEWED BY COMMITTEE STAFF
Lewandowski Meets with Senate Intelligence Committee
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."

Source:
FISHING EXPEDITION
Some Members Seek to Wrap Up Russia Investigations by Year’s End
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."

Source:
WROTE LAW THAT WEAKENED OPIOID OVERSIGHT
Trump: Marino Withdrawing Nomination for Drug Czar
5 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login