Tag Archives: Syria

U.S. and U.K. Move Ships Closer to Syria

U.S. and U.K. Move Ships Closer to Syria

USS Mahan (DDG-72) conducts a replenishment-at-sea in April 2013.

USS Mahan (DDG-72) conducts a replenishment-at-sea in April 2013.

The Navy is extending a deployment of an Aegis-equipped guided missile destroyer in the Eastern Mediterranean amidst a United Nation’s inspection into allegations that the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in the conflict, according to several press reports. Read More

Document: Syria's Chemical Weapons

Document: Syria’s Chemical Weapons

From the Aug. 20, 2013 Congressional Research Service report, Syria’s Chemical Weapons: Issues for Congress. This is an update of a July 1, 2013 report.

The use or loss of control of chemical weapons stocks in Syria could have unpredictable consequences for the Syrian population and neighboring countries as well as U.S. allies and forces in the region. Congress may wish to assess the Administration’s plans to respond to possible scenarios involving the use, change of hands, or loss of control of Syrian chemical weapons. Read More

Dempsey's Options For Syria

Dempsey’s Options For Syria

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. Defense Department Photo

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. Defense Department Photo

Last week Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, outlined American military options in Syria, in response to a threatened hold on his reconfirmation by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a letter signed by McCain and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.). Both senators are proponents of American intervention in Syria, and both are frustrated by what they believe is the administration’s slow and limited decision to intervene in Syria’s conflict. The traditions of American civil-military relations make uniformed discussions of military options in politically charged issues—especially in a public forum—a delicate issue. Nevertheless, in order to secure a second term as JCS chairman, and in response to a formal request, Dempsey presented an unclassified assessment of five options for American military involvement in Syria. Read More

Testy Dempsey Reconfirmation Hearing Dominated by Syria

Testy Dempsey Reconfirmation Hearing Dominated by Syria

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey waits to be seated during the Senate Armed Services Committee reconfirmation hearing on July 18, 2013. Department of Defense Photo

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey waits to be seated during the Senate Armed Services Committee reconfirmation hearing on July 18, 2013. Department of Defense Photo

How far the United States should go in supporting the Syrian opposition, and just what the role of the Chairman (and Vice Chairman) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in formulating that strategy should be, dominated the sometimes testy re-confirmation hearing of Gen. Martin Dempsey and Adm. James Winnefeld on 18 July.

Dempsey’s re-confirmation is not assured. A key member of the panel—Arizona Republican John McCain—was so upset by Dempsey’s answers on Syria that he threatened to put a hold on the nomination. The chairman of the committee offered a possible compromise to get the nomination for a second Dempsey term back on track. Winnefeld did not come under that kind of scrutiny. Read More

Opinion: McCain Wrong on Syria

Opinion: McCain Wrong on Syria

mccain_1Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a vocal advocate for more U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict, is right about at least one thing—a victory for President Bashar al-Assad is a victory for his allies in Iran.

McCain is wrong on many other accounts, most notably the assumption that a more favorable outcome can be achieved if the United States plays a more heavy-handed role in the conflict: history shows that to be false. Read More

Document: Syria's Chemical Weapons

Document: Syria’s Chemical Weapons

From the July, 1 2013 Congressional Research Service report: Syria’s Chemical Weapons:
Issues for Congress:

The use or loss of control of chemical weapons stocks in Syria could have unpredictable consequences for the Syrian population and neighboring countries as well as U.S. allies and forces in the region. Congress may wish to assess the Administration’s plans to respond to possible scenarios involving the use, change of hands, or loss of control of Syrian chemical weapons. Read More

Opinion: Despite Arms Deal U.S. Influence of Syrian Rebels Limited

Opinion: Despite Arms Deal U.S. Influence of Syrian Rebels Limited

Free Syrian Army fighters. Reuters Photo

Free Syrian Army fighters. Reuters Photo

As the United States begins providing arms to Syrian rebels , it enters an increasingly complex arena of arms-trafficking and proxy warfare. The highly factionalized Syrian rebellion and the combined third-party actors supporting it—often with competing aims—mean U.S. attempts to shape the Syrian conflict through military support will depend not simply on American resources and intentions, but the dynamics of the civil war and the network of actors that facilitates its logistics. With the U.S. role in Syrian arms-trafficking shifting from one of restraint to one of support, the difficulties encountered in producing viable political outcomes in Syria are likely to persist. Read More

Arming Syrian Rebels Will Do Little

Arming Syrian Rebels Will Do Little

fsa_dec12After years of debate and increased involvement in the training and logistical support of Syrian rebel forces, the U.S. government authorized the CIA to begin directly arming opponents of the Bashar al Assad regime. Casualties from Syria’s civil war already number at least 93,000 according to some sources, and millions of Syrians are now refugees or internally displaced.

Meanwhile, the United States now confirms that Syria used chemical weapons in a number of instances, at a small scale that many fear may escalate. Chemical-weapons use provided rhetorical justification to this policy decision, but is not the entire reality of the matter. Internal pressure and Free Syrian Army leadership’s refusal to participate in a new round of negotiations at Geneva without U.S. weapons played a major role. Unfortunately for the United States and the administration, neither the known particulars of the U.S. plan, nor the concept of providing arms to rebel forces generally, appears likely to turn the war’s tide or secure lasting U.S. influence in Syria. Read More

Syria Intervention: Some Pros, Mostly Cons

Syria Intervention: Some Pros, Mostly Cons

Syrian protestors asking for a no-fly zone in 2011. European Pressphoto Agency

Syrian protestors asking for a no-fly zone in 2011. European Pressphoto Agency

With the human toll mounting, the United States getting more involved in training, aid, and arms transfers, and continued calls for intervention, U.S. policymakers are grappling with the administration’s relatively non-interventionist stance on Syria. U.S. concerns about the increasing power of jihadist groups within rebel ranks, the possibility of loose chemical weapons, and the overarching desire to shorten the conflict remain. How has the course of events changed the logic of a no-fly zone, or intervention to secure chemical weapons? Read More

Russian Ships To Syria Don't Mean Much

Russian Ships To Syria Don’t Mean Much

A Project 775 ship. DoD Photo

A Project 775 ship. DoD Photo

Early in the summer of 2012, a number of international observers got very worked up about Russia’s plan to dispatch half a dozen warships to the eastern Mediterranean. It sounded like some sort of escalation of an already awful situation, and even the most optimistic analyses noted that having a bunch of old, leaky Russian ships in an active war zone clearly was not ideal. Read More