Corker Warns Of Lack Of Clarity In U.S. Syria Strategy

Calls For Post-Assad Plan And Congressional Consultation Prior To Significant Change In U.S. Involvement

Thursday, April 11, 2013

During a hearing on the crisis in Syria with senior Obama administration officials, Senator Bob Corker, R-Tn., the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned that an ad hoc, reactive approach leaves the United States vulnerable to being drawn into “very dangerous circumstances” without a clear strategy. Senator Corker called for a clear articulation of U.S. goals and plans, advance preparations for the eventual fall of the Assad regime, and close congressional consultation prior to any significant change in U.S. involvement.

“Without clear objectives, principles, or parameters, events might pull us into a very dangerous circumstance where we have too little control – or where we miss a critical opening to do what’s necessary.  I am also concerned that we could overestimate the value of and underestimate the difficulty of a limited military involvement, such as a no-fly zone. There is a clear humanitarian imperative to bring Assad’s barbaric violence to an end, but there are long-term challenges in Syria that we can’t solve with a quick military fix,” said Senator Corker in his opening statement.  

“I’m very interested in what our preparations are for the ‘day after’ the Assad regime falls, as it eventually will - we all hope.  Are we making preparations with our allies in the region?  Are we preparing for the chaos of sectarian violence that may explode among opposition groups when they lose their common enemy?  And if we are preparing for these eventualities, how so?”

Referencing a letter to the president this week, Senator Corker repeated his expectation that Congress’s constitutional role in authorizing foreign assistance and military action overseas will be respected in Syria. 

“While we may have little control over events in Syria, we do have control over our own decision-making process for foreign assistance and for involvement in a war.  Earlier this week, I sent a letter to the president noting the constitutional role of Congress in such decisions and my expectation that major changes or engagements can lawfully proceed only with Congress,” he said.

Testifying before the committee Thursday are Robert Ford, U.S. ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic; Elizabeth Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs; Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, U.S. Department of Treasury; and Dennis Ross, counselor, Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

For full committee testimony and live video coverage of the hearing, visit: http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/us-policy-toward-syria.


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