Corker Returns From Middle East Trip To Turkey, Iraq And Jordan

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Senator Bob Corker, (R-TN), the ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, returned Saturday from a week-long trip (Aug. 10-17) to the Middle East where he visited with U.S. and foreign officials in Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. The trip focused on regional political and security issues important to the U.S., including the violence in Egypt, the conflict in Syria and the threat of sectarian violence and terrorism in the region.

Senator Corker will discuss his trip and other topics on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

Senator Corker spent the first week of the Senate’s August recess in Middle Tennessee and will be making stops throughout Tennessee this coming week.

Senator Corker’s trip to the Middle East revealed the significant way in which the recent expansion in violence threatens the region's security and America's national interest, his office said.

“The spillover of the sectarian conflict in Syria poses a real threat to Iraq, and the growing humanitarian crisis, including the growing number of refugees and internally displaced persons, increasingly threatens stability in countries like Jordan and Lebanon. The U.S. must work with regional partners to return stability to the region and prevent the spread of extremism by supporting moderate, stabilizing forces,” said Senator Corker.

Arriving in Turkey on Sunday, Senator Corker met with members of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, including opposition commander Brigadier General Salim Idriss. On Monday, Corker visited with U.S. service members operating the U.S. Patriot missile battery near the Turkish border with Syria. Later in the day, he visited a refugee camp on the Turkish border for the second time since the conflict began. At Kilis camp, he met with refugee leaders, camp administrators and a number of individual Syrian refugees.

“Turkey’s efforts to assist the thousands of Syrian refugees seeking safe haven in their country are admirable, and they are in a better position than most of the neighboring countries to handle the overflow,” he said. “The refugees there are frustrated by what they see as a lack of support from the international community for the opposition. Efforts to more fully support the Free Syrian Army are coalescing around General Idriss to a degree, but there is much more to do, especially in training and equipping vetted, moderate forces.”

On Tuesday, he traveled to Iraq for meetings in Baghdad with U.S. Ambassador Robert Stephen Beecroft, leaders from Iraq’s Christian minority, and Iraqi National Security Advisor Faleh al-Fayad. The next day, Wednesday, Senator Corker met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Humam Hamoudi. In the Kurdish capital of Erbil, he met with former Kurdish Prime Minister Barham Saleh and Fouad Hussein, chief of staff for Kurdish President Masoud Barzani.

“The security situation in Iraq is deteriorating rapidly. The lack of an inclusive governance effort is creating internal tensions, and that, mixed with regional sectarian tensions flamed by the Syrian conflict, is a potent mix that is allowing al Qaeda to have a significant resurgence in the country. If left unaddressed, these destructive trends will continue to rapidly destabilize the country, and a United States foreign policy that does not recognize this reality will be very problematic for Iraq, for us, and for the region. This is a problem that can’t simply be wished away by the Obama administration,” said Senator Corker.

In Jordan on Thursday, he had a series of meetings with top political and military leaders, including King Abdullah II, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, GID Director General Faisal Shobaki and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mishaal Zaben. On Friday, he concluded his trip with visits to the Za’atri refugee camp, his second since the Syrian conflict began, and the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center.

“Jordan is playing an outsized role in the region, and the burden of refugees into the country is taking a heavy toll. At all levels, Jordan is assisting in developing a coherent response to the crisis in Syria,” he said. “While U.S. civilian and military personnel in Jordan are focused on the stability of that nation and are improving our capability to assist the vetted, moderate opposition in Syria, I’m very concerned with the slow pace of decisions in Washington regarding implementation.”


PHOTOS: Swearing In Ceremony At Convention Center

Woman Charged With Filing False Report Leading To Amber Alert

A Chattanooga woman has been charged with filing a false report after she falsely said her child was missing, setting off an Amber Alert. At approximately 12:20 p.m., the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 4026 Shallowford Road in reference to a child abduction. Letrice Patterson, 32, the child’s aunt, said her silver 2010 Mercury Muron was stolen and the child was ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)

Fast-Starting Vols Gear Up For Another Mobile QB

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – It’s a new week for Tennessee’s football team, but the challenge that awaits in Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon will be a familiar reminder of the one the Volunteers just completed. The Volunteers have a short week to prepare for Arkansas State, a team much like Utah State, which relies heavily on a dual-threat quarterback and a physical front line. ... (click for more)

Chris O'Brien And Andres Santiago Named To Southern League's Weekly Honors

Tuesday, the Southern League announced that Chattanooga Lookouts’ catcher Chris O’Brien has been named Southern League Player of the Week and pitcher Andres Santiago was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week for the period of August 25-September 1.  O’Brien is the fourth Chattanooga Lookouts’ position player to earn a weekly accolade from the league this season while ... (click for more)