Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

4/5: U.S. Reviews Military Options for Syria

Expand Messages
  • borderactions
    April 5, 2013, 7:18 p.m. ET U.S. Reviews Military Options for Syria http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323916304578405053264464608.ht
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 7, 2013
    • 0 Attachment
      April 5, 2013, 7:18 p.m. ET

      U.S. Reviews Military Options for Syria


      By ADAM ENTOUS and JULIAN E. BARNES Wall Street Journal

      The White House, under pressure from key allies and U.S. lawmakers, is
      reviewing a new set of potential military options for assisting rebels in
      Syria, according to U.S. officials.

      Among the ideas were proposals to bomb Syrian aircraft on the ground and
      to use Patriot antimissile batteries in Turkey to defend swaths of northern
      Syria from the regime's Scud missiles, they said.
      Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

      A Syrian woman and children at a refugee camp in Idlib province, Syria,
      along the Turkish border last month.

      Defense officials said those two options faced potentially insurmountable
      technological and legal hurdles, however­underscoring the difficulty of
      finding a plausible way to address increasing international pressure to
      weigh in more forcefully on the side of the Syrian rebels. Other options were
      also presented to the White House but officials declined to discuss them.

      Syria in the Spotlight
      Track the latest events in a map, see the key players and a chronology of
      the unrest.

      _View Graphics_

      The Wall Street Journal
      * _More photos and interactive graphics_

      Top U.S. national-security officials met this week at the White House to
      discuss the revamped options, which were drawn up by the military's Joint
      Chiefs of Staff in response to a request from the White House.

      Top Syrian Defectors
      See some high-profile defections that have hit the Syrian regime.
      * Syrian ambassador to Iraq Nawaf Faresannounces his resignation in a
      video statement Wednesday, becoming the first serving ambassador to
      * In early July, Manaf Tlass, a commander in the elite Republican
      Guard military unit and a longtime friend of Syria's president, leaves the
      country to join family members in France.
      * In June, a Syrian fighter pilot is granted political asylum by
      Jordan after landing his jet at a military air base in the kingdom.
      * In March, Abdo Hussameldin, a deputy in Syria's oil ministry,
      becomes the highest-ranking civilian official to join the opposition and urged
      his countrymen to "abandon this sinking ship" as the nation spiraled toward
      civil war.
      * Also in March, Turkish officials say that two Syrian generals, a
      colonel and two sergeants have defected from the army and crossed into
      * Brig. Gen. Mostafa Ahmad al-Sheik flees to Turkey in January 2012.
      He was the highest ranking officer to bolt.
      * Also in January, Imad Ghalioun, a member of Syria's parliament,
      leaves the country to join the opposition, saying the Syrian people are
      suffering sweeping human rights violations.
      * In late August 2011, Adnan Bakkour, the attorney general of the
      central city of Hama, appears in a video announcing he has defected.

      Source: WSJ research

      President _Barack Obama_ (http://topics.wsj.com/person/O/Barack-Obama/4328)
      and Pentagon chiefs remain skeptical about using force because of
      concerns about being drawn into a new conflict, and this latest review may only
      lead to further incremental steps, officials say.

      The Obama administration has come under increasing pressure from close
      allies including the U.K., France and Israel to strengthen some rebel groups
      and help them gain ground militarily against the forces of Syrian President
      Bashar al-Assad.

      Officials from these countries say they are concerned that radical
      Islamist groups, including the al Qaeda-linked al Nusra Front, could dominate
      post-Assad Syria the longer the civil war drags on. They have also told
      Washington its reluctance to support moderate rebels more fully will reduce the
      West's ability to influence the country's future.

      As the death toll in Syria climbed over the past year­from 5,000 to
      70,000, according to the United Nations­the Obama administration has been
      locked in debate over whether or how to intervene, exposing rifts between
      State Department and Central Intelligence Agency officials who advocated
      greater U.S. involvement against top White House advisers deeply resistant to
      anything that would drag the U.S. directly into an open-ended conflict.

      Surrounding Assad
      More about President Bashar al-Assad's family and the tight circle of clan
      members ruling the country.

      _View Graphics_


      The military's Joint Chiefs of Staff first presented military options to
      the White House last July. They included a no-fly zone, a humanitarian
      corridor and a more limited aerial campaign, as well as options, backed by the
      CIA, for arming and training rebel fighters who don't have ties to radical
      Islamist groups, according to current and former officials.

      Mr. Obama rebuffed the CIA's proposal to arm select rebel fighters, but
      the spy agency got a green light to provide limited training to select
      rebels, according to current and former officials. The White House declined to

      In the new review conducted in recent weeks, the Joint Staff studied the
      possibility of destroying Mr. Assad's aircraft on the ground by using
      weapons that can be launched from ships offshore, reducing the need to send U.S.
      aircraft into Syrian airspace.

      "It makes sense to review where we are, and see if there are any
      openings," a senior U.S. official said.

      In addition to using the Patriots to shoot down Scud missiles inside
      Syria, Joint Staff looked at the feasibility of configuring the Patriots to hit
      aircraft rather than Scuds. A technical analysis by the Pentagon of the
      option of using the Patriots in Turkey to intercept Scuds over northern Syria
      deemed the idea unworkable, according to a senior defense official. The
      Pentagon was also deeply skeptical about using the Patriots to shoot down
      Syrian aircraft, according to defense officials.

      Supporters of an intervention within the administration and in Congress,
      however, say the Pentagon's assessments reflected the military's reluctance
      to get into a shooting war in Syria.

      The option of using Patriots in Turkey to defend against Scuds envisages
      using the batteries to protect parts of Aleppo, Syria's largest city. But
      defense officials found that the Patriots, because of range and technological
      limitations, may only be able to cover a sliver of the territory.
      Advocates of the proposal said even a sliver of northern Aleppo, if protected, will
      help create a safe zone inside Syria in which the opposition could

      Administration lawyers also have questioned on what legal grounds the U.S.
      can intervene militarily without either a United Nations or North Atlantic
      Treaty Organization mandate, barring a major provocation by Damascus such
      as an attack on Turkey or Jordan or the use of chemical weapons.

      Administration officials declined to discuss any of the options presented
      to the White House but said some previously proposed options that weren't
      acted upon remain on the table, including a proposal to provide body armor
      and other equipment to vetted fighters.

      "I'm not going to discuss the details of our internal deliberations, but
      let me be clear that we are constantly reviewing every possible option that
      could help end the violence and accelerate a political transition," White
      House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

      Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan
      Democrat, and senior committee member Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican,
      sent Mr. Obama a letter in March urging him to consider steps including
      using Patriots in Turkey and destroying Syrian aircraft.

      Defense officials said the idea of shooting missiles at planes on runways
      and using Patriot batteries was originally briefed to lawmakers by Joseph
      Holliday, a former Army officer and fellow at the Institute for the Study of
      War. Mr. Holliday, who declined to discuss his briefings, defended the
      technical feasibility of the options.

      "The idea was, what steps could you take short of a full-scale no-fly
      zone?" Mr. Holliday said. "We were looking at intermediate steps." Mr. Holliday
      said it wasn't necessary to destroy every airstrip or knock down every
      Scud or aircraft to create a safe zone within Syria.

      "The point would be to create a space where you would have a robust
      humanitarian aid program, a robust training program and a place for a
      transitional government to form," Mr. Holliday said. "The employment of Patriots would
      be a tactical tool to get you to a strategic objective of being able to
      work with the opposition more closely."

      Write to Adam Entous at _adam.entous@..._ (mailto:adam.entous@...)
      and Julian E. Barnes at_julian_ (mailto:julian.barnes@...)
      _.barnes@..._ (mailto:julian.barnes@...)

      A version of this article appeared April 6, 2013, on page A7 in the U.S.
      edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: U.S. Reviews Syria

      Alternative Link:

      Peace NO War Network_ http://www.PeaceNOWar.net_
      War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate
      Not in our Name! And another world is possible!

      Information for antiwar movements, news across the World, please visit:_
      http://www.PeaceNoWar.net_ (http://www.peacenowar.net/)
      e-mail: _Info@..._ (mailto:Peace@...)
      Tel: (213)403-0131

      Please Join PeaceNoWar Listserv, send e-mail to:
      _peacenowar-subscribe@..._ (mailto:peacenowar-subscribe@...)

      Please Donate to Peace No War Network!
      Send check pay to:

      P.O. Box 751
      South Pasadena, CA 91031-0751
      (All donations are tax deductible)

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.