Recap: Foreign Affairs Committee presses admin on Middle East policyBlog
Earlier this week, Chairman Royce convened a hearing with the State Department’s assistant secretaries for Europe and the Middle East about U.S. policy toward a turbulent Middle East. Miss the hearing? Here’s what you need to know:
U.S. action to deter use of chemical weapons was justified – but a broader strategy for Syria is needed.
Chairman Royce: “The U.S. and our allies were justified in taking limited military action against Bashar al-Assad. We took that action in response to his barbaric use of chemical weapons… That said, military force cannot be the only means of responding to these atrocities. We need a strategy to get a political solution, one that moves beyond Assad to secure a lasting peace. The previous administration did not have one. That’s part of the reason why we’re confronting this crisis today.”
Assad’s brutality is unprecedented in modern Middle Eastern history.
Ambassador Satterfield: “No regime in modern history in the Middle East, including Saddam Hussein’s, has killed as many of its own citizens, has produced external and internal displacement of its own citizens on the scale of the Assad regime. No. It’s unique, sadly.”
If there is to be lasting peace, Assad must go.
Ambassador Satterfield: “[A] Syria in which Assad remains as leader… is not a Syria which we would predict to be meaningfully secure or stable, or not a source of… violent extremism… in the future.”
Syria is part of Iran’s strategy to destabilize the region.
Ambassador Satterfield: “We certainly are concerned with the threat which Iran presents in Syria and through Syria to Lebanon, to Israel and to our other allies and partners in the region and beyond. Our strategy in working with Israel, with Jordan, with the Gulf states, with all the countries of the region and the broader international community is to deny to Iran the ability to proliferate in the fashion that it does into and through Syria.”
The Iran nuclear deal emboldened the regime to increase its destabilizing activities.
Dr. Mitchell: “I think there is a recognition in Europe and among our allies that the problem of Iran is growing in scale – specifically the ballistic missile problem, the problem of Iran’s malign influence across the region. Even in the period since JCPOA was brokered, the scale on which Iran is exerting its influence across the region has increased considerably.”
The Iranian nuclear deal must be strengthened.
Ambassador Satterfield: “We are focused on obtaining support from our critical allies to cure what we regard as significant failures both in the agreement and things that were not negotiated at the time of the agreement but now pose a real threat. And as Assistant Secretary Mitchell said, the dialogue with our European allies has been a positive one and we hope it is one that leads to a comprehensive resolution.”