Dateline Defense: The Obama Administration's Red Line with Syria
by Matthew RJ Brodsky
ABC News Channel 8 "Capital Insider"
April 29, 2013
Matthew RJ Brodsky discussed the latest developments in Syria and what it means for U.S. policy on "Capital Insider" with Morris Jones.
Former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer recently claimed that some of Syria's chemical weapons have already reached Hezbollah. Brodsky explains that this revelation is significant as it comes a week after Israeli Brig. Gen. Itai Brun concluded that Assad has used chemical weapons against the opposition. This brings Israeli intelligence inline with reports from Britain, France, and Qatar and prompted the Obama administration to concede that chemical weapons had, in fact, been used. He continued: "It is also significant because Israel has made a red line itself that it will not tolerate the transfer of weapons--be they sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons or weapons of mass destruction--to Hezbollah or their acquisition by Jabhat al-Nusra, which is a terrorist group aligned with al-Qaeda that's fighting in Syria." Brodsky added: "Whether or not the United States decides that it is going to act, Israel has a red line and it will act to protect its own interests, as it did earlier this year when it bombed anti-aircraft weapons in Syria that were bound for Hezbollah.
Morris Jones asked why administration officials appeared to be walking back their assessment on the use of chemical weapons from last week. Brodsky explained, "in essence the Obama administration doesn't want to do anything about Syria crossing their red line, and so they are going to set a bar that is impossible to reach when it comes to having definitive proof" that chemical weapons were used. "That bar is going to be a UN investigation into the use of chemical weapons inside Syria" but that team has been assembled since March and they have been denied access into Syria and the Assad regime has no desire to let them in. "This is a way for the administration to say that it doesn't have definitive proof that chemical weapons were being used." Brodsky added that the discussion seems to miss the point that Syria's own foreign ministry spokesman freely admitted in July 2012 that the regime had chemical weapons and would use them if threatened.
Jone's discussed Brodsky's op-ed that day, "The Cost of Inaction in Syria," in The Huffington Post. He quoted the article: "Today well-funded jihadist and Islamist forces have hijacked the revolutionâ€¦. By sitting on the sidelines, Washington has contributed to an outcome that guarantees continued ethnic cleansing." Morris Jones asked if it was already too late for Syria. Brodsky suggested that the al-Qaeda aligned terrorist group, Jabhat al-Nusra didn't exist until the end of 2011 and foreign jihadists were not at the forefront of the uprising at the outset. But they have been streaming into the country to battle the regime over the past few years. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are arming these groups, not the secular elements of the Free Syrian Army that the U.S. should like to see empowered. And all the while the administration is refusing to offer any lethal assistance. The result is close to 80,000 have been killed in this sectarian conflict. Even if Assad was vanquished tomorrow, it no longer means that it would end the civil war. Ethnic cleansing will continue as scores are settled and since the U.S. hasn't supported anyone in the conflict, we have no influence on the opposition. By refusing to act as a world leader, we have contributed to this tragic outcome.
Related Topics: Gulf States, Interviews, Syria, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, U.S. Military Policy, United Nations, Videos, Weapons Proliferation
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