Obama Hopes to Review Syria Strategy, Oust al-Assad: CNN Report
12:23 13.11.2014(updated 12:40 13.11.2014)
Unsatisfied with the results of the US fight against Islamic State (IS) militants both in Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama has reportedly ordered a review of US policy towards Damascus, one that could see the ousting of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
MOSCOW, November 13 (RIA Novosti) – President Barack Obama has asked his national security team to review the US strategy in Syria after determining it is not possible to confront the IS militants without removing Syria's current president, according to a CNN report which was published early on Thursday.
"The review is a tacit admission that the initial strategy of trying to confront the IS [also referred to as ISIS/ISIL] first in Iraq and then take the group's fighters on in Syria, without also focusing on the removal of al-Assad, was a miscalculation," says the TV channel's website.
'The President has asked us to look again at how this fits together,' CNN quoted one senior official, without disclosing his name, as saying. 'The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL, we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria.'
The American news channel says that in the past week, the White House has convened four meetings of the President's national security team; one of them was chaired by the president himself and the others were attended by top officials such as the US Secretary of State.
These meetings were 'driven to a large degree [by] how our Syria strategy fits into our ISIS strategy," CNN quotes the senior official as saying.
CNN however adds that other sources have denied the review of the strategy, but "admit there is concern about some of its core aspects", quoting a senior administration official as saying "there is an ongoing discussion and constant process of recalibration.'
According to CNN, the White House is considering a variety of proposals: the Obama administration has asked Congress for $500 million "to train and equip" 5,000 so-called vetted rebels in Syria within one year. But the vetting process remains slow and complicated.
CNN quotes Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby as saying that more than four months after announcing an effort to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition, the vetting process had not even begun and logistics are still being worked out with the Turks and Saudis, who are hosting the training.
There have also been discussions of a no-fly zone near the border of Turkey and Syria, but, the channel says, officials claim "Turkey so far has been vague about what troops and other assets it is willing to contribute to the effort."
The channel adds that the US is increasingly becoming convinced that it cannot tackle the IS in Iraq without also incorporating Syria into its strategy. And that strategy, CNN quoted some officials as saying, means dealing with rebels battling al-Assad as well as criticism from Arab partners that the administration has been too soft on the Syrian government.
'The strategy with respect to Syria has not changed: While the immediate focus remains to drive ISIL out of Iraq, we and coalition partners will continue to strike at ISIL in Syria to deny them safe haven and to disrupt their ability to project power,' CNN quotes Alistair Baskey, spokesman for the National Security Council, as saying in a statement Wednesday evening,
'Assad has been the biggest magnet for extremism in Syria, and the President has made clear that Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern. Alongside our efforts to isolate and sanction the Assad regime, we are working with our allies to strengthen the moderate opposition…' he added.
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