Policy & Strategy

Senators: Peace plan in Syria has failed

Three senators who have called for more U.S. action in Syria
said Thursday that the peace plan in Syria has failed, and it was time for a
military response.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) and Lindsey
Graham (R-S.C.) issued a joint statement Thursday that called on the Obama administration
to recognize the peace plan from UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan had failed, as
President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have not kept a ceasefire.

{mosads}The senators once again called on the Obama administration
and the international community to mobilize with a military response in Syria.

“Assad’s campaign of violence will continue, as it has
for more than a year now, until the military balance inside the country shifts
against him,” the senators said Thursday. “Until then, the killing
will only increase, and diplomacy will continue to fail.”

Assad had agreed to the peace plan proposed by Annan and backed
by the UN Security Council, but the ceasefire that took effect last week has
not appeared to hold.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said Thursday
that Syria is not keeping the truce as reports of violence continue.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at a
hearing
on Syria Thursday that the Obama administration is still committed
to a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict, although the Pentagon is preparing
contingency plans for military options.

The senators said that the international community is not recognizing
the reality on the ground that Assad will not stop the violence, and by not
acting it is “only enabling Assad to continue killing.”

“The only way to stop Assad’s campaign of slaughter is for
the United States to take tangible steps with our friends and allies to help
the Syrian opposition change the military balance of power on the ground,” they
wrote.

Lieberman and McCain visited a Syrian refugee camp on the
Turkish border, and met with leaders of the opposition last week. They said many
people there believe the United States needs to play a leading role in
mobilizing the international community and providing lethal assistance.

Other Republican senators, however, are more reluctant to
get involved militarily in Syria. At a hearing on the subject Thursday, Foreign Relations
Committee ranking member Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) said the Obama administration needed to “remain
skeptical” about using military force in Syria.

“If the United States or other western nations insert
themselves too deeply into this conflict, it could backfire and give credence
to the Syrian regime’s claim that outside influences are the source of their
troubles,” Lugar said.

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