Tags: Barack Obama | Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | Syria | War on Terrorism | Michael Hayden

Gen. Hayden: We Might Have to Declare Assad an Enemy of US

By    |   Monday, 17 Nov 2014 10:22 AM

President Barack Obama may have to declare the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad an enemy of the United States in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS), said Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency.

The short-term strategy against the Islamic militants in Syria should be to "contain and punish ISIS," Hayden said, adding that it didn't solve the long-term problem, but just "buys us time and space."

He said Obama might have to employ U.S. ground forces in Syria as part of the Islamic State campaign.

"We're going to have to create some sort of ground force in Syria," Hayden, a retired four-star Air Force general, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday. "At some point, we may have to declare the Bashar Assad government our enemy here as well."

Syria was the "problem from hell" in the battle against the Islamic State, Hayden said, because the U.S. was "so late to the party" when it began airstrikes in September.

At this point, he said the U.S. had lost its options to arm the moderate Syrian opposition, which may no longer exist.

The U.S. effort against the Islamic State in Iraq was somewhat better, Hayden said, where forces were "making some progress" against ISIS, but added troops needed to be more involved with Iraqi special forces.

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"No one's talking about American maneuver brigades operating in the Iraqi desert. But we are talking about embedding our forces farther forward, to provide the kind of support, advice, stiffening, and then calling in precise airstrikes that will make this easier to do than it has been to date," he said.

Hayden said the U.S. didn't have "a great deal of leverage" working with Turkey against the Islamic State because of their attitude toward the Kurds, whose forces have been battling the Islamic militants and who have "proven themselves to be our real friends in the region for decades."

"We see the greatest threat here as ISIS, followed by Assad, and the Kurds not a threat at all. The Turks view the Kurds as the greatest concern, followed by Assad, and then ISIS. We're coming at this problem in completely different directions," he said.

Hayden cautioned against making conclusions about an upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee report about practices the CIA used to detain and interrogate captured terror suspects following the 9/11 attacks. He said it was "historical fact" the procedures worked.

"I need to call your attention to the fact that when this report is made public, the CIA rebuttal and the Republican minority report will also be made public. And so out of a sense of fairness, I recommend to everyone before they rush to judgment that they read all three documents," he said.

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President Obama may have to declare the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad an enemy of the United States in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS), said Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency.
Michael Hayden, Syria, ISIS, enemy, Bashar Assad, Turkey, Kurds
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2014-22-17
Monday, 17 Nov 2014 10:22 AM
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