Syrian rebels wouldn’t back US interests, top US general says
WASHINGTON – The Associated Press
In this July 18, 2013, file photo, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, holds up a photo of a deployed American soldier as he testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee at his reappointment hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, FileThe Obama administration is opposed to even limited U.S. military intervention in Syria because it believes rebels fighting the al-Assad regime wouldn’t support American interests if they were to seize power right now, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote to a congressman in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
Effectively ruling out U.S. cruise missile attacks and other options that wouldn’t require U.S. troops on the ground, Dempsey said the military is clearly capable of taking out Syrian President Bashar Assad’s air force and shifting the balance of the Arab country’s civil war back toward the armed opposition. But he said such an approach would plunge the United States deep into another war in the Arab world and offer no strategy for peace in a nation plagued by ethnic rivalries.
“Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides,” Dempsey said in the letter Aug. 19 to Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. “It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor. Today, they are not.”
Dempsey said Syria’s war was “tragic and complex.” “It is a deeply rooted, long-term conflict among multiple factions, and violent struggles for power will continue after al-Assad’s rule ends,” he wrote. “We should evaluate the effectiveness of limited military options in this context.”