Trump aides differ over Assad’s future after Syria attack
Sarah Lynch and David Lawder,Reuters, Apr 9 2017
Top aides to Pres Trump demurred on Sunday over where Pindo policy on Syria was headed after last week’s missile strikes, leaving open questions about whether removing Assad from power was now one of Trump’s goals. After the strikes, Trump administration officials said they were prepared to take further actions if necessary. UN ambassador Nikki Haley said Pindostan had “multiple priorities” in Syria and that stability there was impossible with Assad as president. Haley told NBC Meet the Press:
In no way do we see peace in that area with Assad as the head of the Syrian government, and we have to make sure that we’re pushing that process. The political solution has to come together for the good of the people of Syria.
Her comments appeared at odds with those of Sec State Rex Tillerson, who said the missile strike was aimed solely at deterring the use of chemical weapons by Assad. Tillerson said on ABC This Week:
There is no change to our military posture. The priority in Syria is defeating Daesh. Once Daesh is defeated, we can turn our attention to trying to help bring about a political process that can bring about stability in Syria. It is through that political process that we believe the Syrian people will be able to decide the fate of Assad.
A White House official said any difference in nuance was inadvertent and unintentional. Tillerson on Sunday blamed Russia for enabling the poison gas attack by failing to follow through on a 2013 agreement to secure and destroy chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria. He said:
The failure related to the recent strike and the recent terrible chemical weapons attack in large measure is a failure on Russia’s part to achieve its commitment to the international community.
Russia swiftly condemned last week’s attack. On Sunday, a joint command center comprised of Russian, Iranian and militia forces supporting Assad said it would respond to any new aggression and increase its support for its ally. Congress critturs of both sexes & all genders were supportive of Trump’s decision to attack the Syrian air base, but some Rethugs said they were concerned about the lack of policy clarity and Tillerson’s strategy of leaving Assad’s fate unresolved while concentrating on Daesh. Marco Rubio told ABC:
There seems to be a difference in what Ambassador Haley is saying, that Assad has no future, and what I heard this morning from Sec Tillerson.
He added that Tillerson’s strategy won’t work, saying:
There is no such thing as Assad yes, but ISIS no.
Lindsey Graham told NBC Meet the Press that removing Assad from power would require Pindostan to commit thousands more troops to the country to create safe areas for the opposition to regroup, retrain and ultimately take control of the country. Graham said:
You tell the Russians, ‘If you continue to bomb the people we train, we’ll shoot you down!’