STATE Official: "Obama’s legacy is that he got us out of two wars, not into a new one in Syria!"

Via FLC


MEPGS. Excerpts:
“… I’ve never seen the White House and the State Department so much at odds,” said one well informed US official.  The gap between what the Department wants to do in Syria and the reluctance of the White House to embrace it, is as great as on any issue in my career,” With the new Secretary of State, John Kerry, taking the reins, he has been bombarded with advice on how to more significantly engage the US in what is becoming, in the words of one veteran analyst a “dark hole” which has the potential to suck in every country in the Middle East.  Kerry, according to informed sources, is pushing various options that could increase US involvement and therefore leverage.
 


However, a number of veteran observers believe it is already too late for the US to change the dynamic in Syria.  Despite spirited encouragement from many non-combatants on the side lines [For example, a former Middle East diplomat said last week, “When the US becomes involved, it becomes number one overnight].  And some European diplomats say that targeted bombing raids by US fighter jets on the Syrian air force and its missile sites could change the dynamic on the ground immediately.And while informed sources say that even White House “hard liners” admit privately, that the scant efforts put forth by the Administration so far hardly constitute a policy, they do not believe that absent a quick dynamic change on the ground [Which few think is likely], President Obama will insure that, as one State Department official put it, “His legacy is that he got us out of two wars, not into a new one.”Those defending White House reluctance to “up the ante” against the Syrian government point out that there is no support at home for such a move.  “Still, it is the President’s job to lead public opinion,” says one disgruntled State Department official.  “All he gives us is a `drone policy’.” While some editorialists and, of course, Senator John McCain, criticize the President for standing on the sidelines while this unprecedented bloodbath goes on in Syria, well-placed officials say it is already too late for US arms, money or diplomacy to alter the increasingly vicious nature of the Syrian civil war.  As one diplomat put it,



“It is written.”[This has not stopped the British or the French governments from lobbying hard for a greater US role.  But they are aware that having made a similar argument in Libya, they are in no position to press the Administration. Still, they are determined to provide arms aid, to the extent possible, to the rebels, even if it means acting without their EU partners]”

However, repeatedly the White House has been warned that the longer the US avoids serious engagement, the more likely the outcome will affect surrounding states.  Turkey, because of its size and power, is considered the most insulated.  The Israelis, of course, are considered quite capable of taking care of themselves (though, they admit privately, there are no easy answers for Syria). Even Jordan, despite the refugee flow, has received a fair amount of financial support from the wealthy Gulf States and veteran analysts insist that in what has become a Shia-Sunni struggle, Saudi Arabia will insure that King Abdullah of Jordan does not become a victim.  Lebanon is a different matter. Always teetering on the edge of political instability, with Hezbollah openly supporting the Syrian regime, while hundreds of thousands of Sunni refugees pour over the border, Lebanon’s precarious balance may well be the first to go.  They are now in the midst of struggling to form a new government that, in the words of one US official, “…will allow them to muddle through.” To which he adds,  “It’s the best we can hope for.” The other country most at risk, say US analysts, is Iraq.  US officials believe Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has been too compliant to Iran’s wishes.  As one State Department official put it, “Maliki, despite what the Saudis might think, is not a pawn of Iran.  He can push back and/or avoid complying with their wishes.  But this time his calculus is that a Sunni victory in Syria will adversely impact Shia dominance in Iraq.”  This “take” presupposes not only continued facilitation of Iranian arms shipments to Damascus but also a further crack down on Kurdish and Sunni minorities in Iraq – a prescription, say State Department veterans of Iraq (and there are a lot of them) for a major increase in violence in that benighted country. …, ….   


If there is a victor amongst the carnage that was once the Arab Spring, it is Qatar.  “The Mighty Mouse That Roared” [one state Department official’s witticism] has had the uncanny knack of picking the winning side, whether it is Bahrain [where they dare not cross the Saudis], Libya, Egypt or Syria.  As one US official says half-jokingly, “It helps to have only three people making decisions and lots of cash to implement them with]. But whether it is the horror that is Syria (where half of the population is de-housed) or the economic mess that is Egypt, there is genuine envy among US officials for the operational skill of the Qataris. 


The other Middle East issue that consumes US policy makers is, of course, Iran and its nuclear program.  The last meeting in Almaty was no more successful than the first.  The Israelis are as belligerent privately as ever.  Meanwhile, the Administration is beginning to look to some like it is prepared only to make certain that Iran doesn’t physically possess a nuclear weapon before its term ends in January 2017 {“If only the Iranians will cooperate,” says one cynical observer].  An example of this lack of urgency is the apparent unwillingness of the Administration to press Teheran before its June Presidential elections.  Privately, US officials say nothing can be done until after June. ..”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
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