WASHINGTON – Jordan offered the United States the opportunity to use its land as
a base for drone strikes against Syria on multiple occasions, according to an
investigative report published on Wednesday.
The extensive account in The
New York Times
claims that US President Barack Obama repeatedly denied the
offers, made as early as March during the president’s visit to the region, as
well as various other lobbying efforts pursued by aides and foreign allies aimed
at making Syria a priority of the White House.
Pressure increased from
national security advisers and regional leaders alike as casualties mounted and
momentum shifted in the months before a massive chemical weapons attack on a
Damascus suburb in August.
Former officials secretary of state Hillary
Clinton and David Petraeus supported the US putting “skin in the game” in order
to maintain the edge of rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.
But for months, the president put off a decision on whether or not to pursue the
operation, until agreeing to it in theory back in April – two months before the
policy was announced on the phone to journalists, the report claims.
mission to provide light arms was designated as covert, and not under the
purview of the Pentagon, so as to avoid any legal ramifications of the US
government aiding in the attempt to overthrow a “sovereign government.” The
report details a strategically significant meeting in June, during which
Secretary of State John Kerry – bullish on intervention and on an imperative to
punish the use of chemical arms – presented the president with a letter warning
him of the consequences of inaction.
This is when the president’s deputy
national security adviser announced the covert plan, without any word from the
Kerry’s letter called repeated use of chemical weapons
gone unpunished a “green light for continued CW use,” echoing a phrase used
repeatedly after the August 21 attack by Sen. John McCain.
officials told The Jerusalem Post
that the report was not seen as revelatory, as
the fevered debates over Syria in the Oval Office and Situation Room were well
publicized throughout the crisis.
But Obama is cast as eager to find an
exit ramp, as he eventually does with a deal brokered by Russia to facilitate
the elimination of Syria’s 1,000-ton chemical weapons stockpile.
State Department announced this week that the US had flown 10 armored vehicles
from Maryland to Lebanon, donated to the United Nations’ Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Meanwhile, in London this week, Kerry
continued to push for the enforcement of the Geneva Communique, which calls for
a peaceful settlement to the Syrian conflict with the establishment of an
Iran, benefactor to the Assad government, has refused
to endorse the document.
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