Senators to Obama: Work with us on new Syria strategy

A group of senators on Friday urged President Obama to rework his Syria strategy to change the balance of power on the ground, arguing that was the only way to negotiate a settlement to the civil war.

In a letter to Obama, the senators said there was bipartisan support for a more aggressive Syria strategy, noting that the Obama administration’s efforts thus far have not ended the conflict now approaching its three-year anniversary.

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“The situation and our options may have grown more complicated, but we believe there is still strong, bipartisan support in the Senate for developing and implementing a comprehensive Syria strategy, one that will break the stalemate on the ground and enable a political solution that paves the way for Assad’s exit,” the senators wrote.

“We call on you to engage Congress as your team moves forward in developing and implementing policy options,” they said.

The letter was signed by the top Democrats and Republicans on the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees and other senators who have long argued for the Obama administration to provide more military assistance to the Syrian opposition.

The Obama administration has been hesitant to send military equipment to Syria as Islamist groups have gained power in Syria and clashed with secular opposition groups.

The senators argued that “events on the ground are proving that [humanitarian aid] is not enough, as the Assad regime escalates its attacks against civilians and refuses to allow humanitarian relief to reach those in need.”

“The only way to make Geneva a viable process is to change the current balance of power and alter Assad’s calculus so that he no longer believes he can remain Syria’s ruler,” the senators wrote.

As it approaches three years, the Syrian civil war has shown no signs of ending, as the Geneva II peace conference did not produce any breakthroughs toward a solution.

The letter to Obama was signed by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Angus King (I-Maine).