President Donald Trump does not have a military plan to prevent Russia and Iran from dominating Syria once ISIS has been defeated there, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told the Washington Examiner.
Nunes, a top Republican congressman who has defended the Trump administration on many issues, said the lack of such a plan means "you take the longer term risk of empowering the [Iran-backed] Shias and the Russians and the Assad regime to create more havoc for the West."
The California congressman said one of his main concerns is "the Iranians' ability to get a land bridge out to the Mediterranean to increase their logistical support for terrorist networks. You've got the largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran — if they get the logistical capability to move massive amounts of weapons and equipment and God knows what else quickly to the west, it's a real danger."
Trump's goal, as stated consistently throughout the presidential campaign, was to work with Russia to fight terrorism, but that appears more remote than ever following the U.S. shooting down of a Syrian jet that angered the Kremlin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin always regarded the threat from ISIS as secondary to maintaining his ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, mainly because Assad gave the Russian military the use of a port on the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Examiner.
Iran also is bolstering Assad as a way to take control of territory formerly held by ISIS that will allow Teheran to have direct contact with Lebanon, which is home of their main terrorist ally, Hezbollah.
The Institute for the Study of War's Jennifer Cafarella told The Guardian that she shares this concern that the Trump administration has no plan for the next step in the Syria conflict.
"The larger picture here is the war after ISIS, the war to dominate the security sphere after the recapture of Mosul," Cafarella said. "Iran is already preparing for that next phase and has begun to take steps to win that next phase. The U.S. is still fixated on ISIS as if it's the only strategic priority in the region."
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