An internal memo, sharply critical of U.S. policy in Syria, was signed by more than 50 mid- to high-level State Department officers involved with advising on Syria policy, calling for military strikes against Bashar al-Assad’s government to end its violations of civil war cease-fire. It was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Military strikes against the Assad government would signify a key change in the Obama administration’s longstanding policy of not intervening directly in the Syrian civil war, even as it has called for a political transition that would see Assad leave power.
One source who had read the cable said it echoed the views of U.S. officials who have been in Syria before, some of who had also worked there for years and who believe the present policy is unsuccessful.
“In a nutshell, the group would like to see a military option put forward to put some pressure … on the regime,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Robert Ford, who resigned in 2014 as U.S. ambassador to Syria over policy disagreements, stated that this is not the first time the State Department has argued for a more activist Syria policy, for instance, the latter noted that in the summer of 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed arming and training anti-Assad rebels. The plan, which had backing from other Cabinet officials, was rejected by President Barack Obama and his White House aides.
The dissenting cable discussed the possibility of air strikes but made no mention of adding U.S. ground troops to Syria.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said in an email. “We are reviewing the cable now, which came up very recently, and I am not going to comment on the contents.”