Tags: Emerging Threats | Homeland Security | Iraq in Crisis | ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | Syria | War on Terrorism

Report: US Taking New Look at Ousting Syria's Assad

By    |   Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014 09:53 PM

President Barack Obama is asking his national security advisers to review U.S. policy toward Syria, realizing that it may not be possible to crush the Islamic State (ISIS) without ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, CNN reports.

The White House has called four meetings of the national security team in the past week, one chaired by Obama and others attended by top officials such as Secretary of State John Kerry, CNN reports.

"The president has asked us to look again at how this fits together," one senior official told CNN. "The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL [another name for ISIS], we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria."

Obama first declared that Assad had lost his legitimacy in 2011.

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CNN notes that in October, the United States had an "Iraq first" strategy, with efforts to fight ISIS in Iraq as the priority and operations in Syria to support the efforts in Iraq.

The strategy presumed that moderate Syrian rebels would be trained and armed as a fighting force against ISIS in the meantime – and ultimately would be ready to take on Assad's regime, CNN reports.

In reality, the rebels have been struggling.

"Developments on the ground have caused the national security team to collectively conclude we may not have time for Iraq first," one senior administration official told CNN.

"In an ideal world, you would drive ISIL out of Iraq and pivot to Syria. But if by then the moderate opposition has been smacked and ISIL is still there, that doesn't help."

Another senior official told CNN: "It has been pretty clear for some time that supporting the moderate opposition in the hopes of toppling Assad isn't going to work."

But a National Security Council official insists that "the strategy with respect to Syria has not changed."

The official told Reuters that Obama's national security team "meets frequently to determine how best to carry out the strategy he set forth to counter ISIL in Iraq and Syria through several military and non-military lines of effort."

"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," the official told Reuters.

"Alongside our efforts to isolate and sanction the Assad regime, we are working with our allies to strengthen the moderate opposition."

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President Barack Obama is asking his national security advisers to review U.S. policy toward Syria, realizing that it may not be possible to crush the Islamic State (ISIS) without ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, CNN reports.
Assad, ousting, review, policy
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2014-53-12
Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014 09:53 PM
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