House Intel Chair Slams U.S. Outreach to Syria’s Islamist Rebels

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-MI, speaks during a press conference to release the Committee's report on the security threat posed by Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE October 8, 2012 in the House Visitors Center of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. 
National Journal
Dec. 5, 2013, 3:27 p.m.

House In­tel­li­gence Chair­man Mike Ro­gers slammed the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s out­reach to Syr­ia’s Is­lam­ist rebels to en­cour­age them to sup­port a peace con­fer­ence early next year, just one day after seni­or of­fi­cials in­dic­ated re­li­gious fight­ers may play a key role in reach­ing a dip­lo­mat­ic solu­tion to end the bloody con­flict.

“You should draw lines around or­gan­iz­a­tions that would cut the heads off of chil­dren to prove their polit­ic­al point,” the Michigan Re­pub­lic­an told Na­tion­al Journ­al Daily. “When you don’t have a course of ac­tion that helps change the bat­tle­field, for a dip­lo­mat­ic solu­tion, you end up go­ing to the parties who are “¦ rad­ic­al Is­lam­ists. That’s not a very good way to con­duct dip­lomacy.”

Is­lam­ic mil­it­ants, Ro­gers said, “want a safe haven in east­ern Syr­ia and — we know this with a high de­gree of con­fid­ence — to con­duct op­er­a­tions ex­tern­al to Syr­ia. You don’t ne­go­ti­ate with ter­ror­ist groups that have that kind of mind-set.”

The Wall Street Journ­al re­por­ted this week that the U.S. and its al­lies are hold­ing dir­ect talks with Is­lam­ist mil­it­ant fac­tions in Syr­ia, as sec­u­lar groups Wash­ing­ton backed in the war against strong­man Bashar al-As­sad con­tin­ue to lose ground to re­li­gious fight­ers and the re­gime. The primary tar­get of this West­ern and Saudi out­reach is the Is­lam­ic Front, a new rebel co­ali­tion of re­li­gious mi­li­tias ex­clud­ing the main al-Qaida-linked groups in the coun­try.

Ro­gers’ com­ments come one day after De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel said “all parties” must be rep­res­en­ted to reach a dip­lo­mat­ic solu­tion in the war-torn coun­try. “This can’t be achieved by just [lim­it­ing ourselves to] nar­row strips of in­terest,” he said Wed­nes­day.

Sep­ar­ately, just days be­fore nuc­le­ar ne­go­ti­ations are set to re­sume in Vi­enna, Ro­gers slammed the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­cent deal with Ir­an, say­ing talks are doomed to fall short of ul­ti­mately dis­mant­ling that coun­try’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram. Con­sidered a ma­jor dip­lo­mat­ic break­through to re­solve the dec­ade-long dis­pute, the deal, reached late last month, was hailed by U.S. of­fi­cials as a first step to­ward a last­ing, com­pre­hens­ive agree­ment on Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram — though Is­rael and Ir­an hawks in Con­gress have un­leashed a bar­rage of scath­ing cri­ti­cism be­cause the deal could en­able Ir­an to keep en­rich­ing some urani­um. “No, I don’t be­lieve that there will be any dis­mant­ling for their pro­gram,” Ro­gers said, “and I do not be­lieve it’s in the world’s in­terest to al­low Ir­an to have the cap­ab­il­ity to en­rich and pro­cess urani­um.”

“It’s a ter­rible deal,” he con­tin­ued. “That’s why bi­par­tis­an mem­bers of the House and Sen­ate op­pose it, why our Ar­ab League part­ners op­pose it, why Is­rael op­poses it, why some in European par­lia­ments have said, ‘This is not a good deal.’ When you have lost your friends, you’ve lost your Con­gress, and you’ve lost Is­rael, maybe you should re­think your strategy,” he said of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Key points with­in the Nov. 24 deal in­clude keep­ing Ir­an’s urani­um en­rich­ment be­low 5 per­cent (far be­low weapons-grade levels) and neut­ral­iz­ing its stock­pile of 20-per­cent-en­riched urani­um in ex­change for some $7 bil­lion in sanc­tions re­lief. “They’re go­ing to ox­id­ize that 20 [per­cent-en­riched] urani­um — which can be un-ox­id­ized and re­con­ver­ted to fuel in 30 days,” Ro­gers wor­ried.

The best idea for a nuc­le­ar deal, Ro­gers said, is the United Ar­ab Emir­ates’ pro­gram. “It al­lows a peace­ful pro­gram and all the en­rich­ment and pro­cessing to take place out­side the coun­try; “¦ the fuel is brought in­to their fa­cil­ity, the waste product is taken out of the fa­cil­ity,” Ro­gers said. “That’s the gold stand­ard for a peace­ful nuc­le­ar pro­gram.”

What We're Following See More »
AMONG INVESTIGATION'S LAST KNOWN INTERVIEWS
Mueller Has Interviewed Press Sec. Sarah Sanders
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has interviewed White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, she told CNN on Friday...The interview is one of the final known interviews by Mueller's team. It was conducted late last year, around the same time as the special counsel interviewed then-White House chief of staff John Kelly, well after a number of other senior officials, including former White House communications director Hope Hicks and former press secretary Sean Spicer, were brought in for questioning."

Source:
AG BECERRA CALLS TRUMP'S PLAN A 'FOOLISH PROPOSAL'
Gov. Newsom Says California Will Sue Trump Over Emergency Declaration
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that California was planning to sue the Trump administration over its declaration of a national emergency on the southern border with Mexico, delivering on a promise state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra made last week 'to reject this foolish proposal in court the moment it touches the ground.'...'No other state is going to be impacted by this declaration of emergency more than the state of California,' the governor said. Becerra said attorneys were reviewing the declaration and would develop the legal argument to take to court in the near future."

Source:
AVOIDS SHUTDOWN WITH A FEW HOURS TO SPARE
Trump Signs Border Deal
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump signed a sweeping spending bill Friday afternoon, averting another partial government shutdown. The action came after Trump had declared a national emergency in a move designed to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border, where he said the United States faces 'an invasion of our country.'"

Source:
JUDGE SIDES WITH MUELLER
Stone Under Gag Order
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"A federal judge on Friday ordered Roger Stone, his attorneys and the special counsel’s office to halt all public commentary about the case involving charges that the longtime Donald Trump associate lied to Congress and obstructed its Russia investigation. In a four-page order, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with Mueller that Stone and his attorneys 'must refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.'"

Source:
HAS NOT BEEN INCLUDED SINCE 1950
Supreme Court Will Rule on Census Citizenship Question
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Supreme Court added a politically explosive case to its low-profile docket Friday, agreeing to decide by the end of June whether the Trump administration can add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census form sent to every American household. The census hasn’t asked the question of each household since 1950, and a federal judge last month stopped the Commerce Department from adding it to the upcoming count. He questioned the motives of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and said the secretary broke a 'veritable smorgasbord' of federal rules by overriding the advice of career officials."

Source:
×
×

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