The decision over whether or not to conduct airstrikes against the Assad regime in Syria comes only one day before a US/Russia meeting to restore diplomacy in the crisis.
As True Activist reported on October 5th, the Obama administration has been mulling over the use of military force in Syria after diplomatic cooperation with Russia dissolved after a failed ceasefire. At the time, discussions were being held “at the staff level” and recommendations were being prepared to present to the president. However, the State Department, the CIA, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff had discussed limited military strikes against the Syrian regime, as a way of “forcing Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad to pay the cost for his violations of the ceasefire, disrupt his ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo, and raise the pressure on the regime to come back to the negotiating table in a serious way.”
Some military leaders, such as General J. Dunford, have spoken out against military options as they would lead to a “direct confrontation” with Russia. Thankfully, the airstrikes are not the only option that the president is reviewing as arming the US-backed “rebels” with more sophisticated weaponry has also been discussed. Yet, this option will also likely further escalate US tensions with Russia and Syria as they will likely view this as definitive proof of US support for the terrorist group Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda offshoot that the US often includes as part of the “moderate opposition forces” active in Syria.
Now, two weeks later, the time has come for Obama to make his final decision, which will be reached after a meeting between the president and his top foreign policy advisors. According to Reuters, Friday’s meeting is the latest in a string of debates between US government officials, which have so far accomplished nothing other than escalate the situation. Insiders said that the Obama administration will choose the best action that will allow the US to
“bolster the battered moderate rebels so they can weather what is now widely seen as the inevitable fall of rebel-held eastern Aleppo to the forces of Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”
However, there is more at stake. Some of the US-backed “moderate rebels” have said that they will defect to violent extremist groups if the US does not support the “military option.” Many of these “moderates” feel betrayed after Obama encouraged their uprising against Assad in 2011 but later abandoned them to fight Assad without US military assistance.
In what is also another instance of suspicious timing, tomorrow’s meeting between Putin and his advisors comes only one day before a Russian-planned meeting between Russia and the US in Lausanne, Switzerland with the sole purpose of restoring the diplomatic option. US officials were said to have voiced little hope for success, but the fact that Obama’s meeting happens a day before the Saturday summit is telling. It has also been also said that the United States’ failure to act earlier in Syria had also narrowed Obama’s options. A US strategist commenting on the situation said: “There is only so long you can ignore your options before you don’t have any.”
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