Tags: Syria | menendez | US | strategy | syria

Sen. Menendez 'Bewildered' US Has No Clear Strategy on Syria

Image: Sen. Menendez 'Bewildered' US Has No Clear Strategy on Syria

Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 05:23 PM

By Greg Richter

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Testimony from State Department officials and others on Thursday did little to assure Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez that the White House has a workable strategy for Syria.

"Today's hearing left me bewildered that this government does not have a strategy as to Syria," Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, told CNN's Jake Tapper. "It seems that we're having meetings about how we get to meetings in Geneva, while Syria is becoming the Somalia of the Middle East and attracting an all-star cast of violent extremists."

Menendez said it is "beyond my imagination" how the administration does not to have a strategy against President Bashar Assad's government, which the United States has accused of gassing his own people in its civil war that began during the Arab Spring of 2011.

Outsiders have joined some rebel groups, and some of them have links to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

Under threat of U.S. missile strikes, Assad agreed in late August to chemical weapons inspections. Thursday's testimony revealed that 21 out of 23 chemical weapons facilities have been destroyed or rendered inoperable.

But Menendez said U.S. intelligence believes there are a total of 45 chemical weapons sites.

"We need access to all of the sites," he said.

Menendez told Tapper he was to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry after the CNN interview to discuss Iran, but he would also be bringing up Syria in light of the committee testimony, "because this is not acceptable."

"The reality is, I heard no comprehensive, cohesive strategy" during the hearing, Menendez told Tapper.

Both Democrats and Republicans on the committee were harsh in their questioning, Stars and Stripes reports.

"We have weakened ourselves," the committee's top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. "We have empowered Assad. We have thrown out anything resembling a strategy."


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