Monday, 21 September 2015

Pressure shifts to Iran to implement nuclear deal

 The administration doubles down on denigrating the rebels.
 'Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of the US Central Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 16 that only “four or five” US-trained rebels were in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, despite a plan that 5,400 fighters would be trained using a budget of over $500 million. 
 Julian Pecquet reports that some Democrats on the committee are starting to ask whether the United States should rethink its precondition that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should step aside, especially given the failure to date of the US train-and-equip mission.
 Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told Al-Monitor that he is concerned about a "void" that could be left if Assad is removed and there is no viable political opposition, and raised the specter of US interventions in Iraq and Libya. "Who are you going to replace him with? What are you going to do? Leave a void?" he told Al-Monitor. "That hasn't worked with Saddam [Hussein] or with [Moammar] Gadhafi. It's a royal, royal mess, and we're just throwing more money at it and making it messier."
 The next day, White House spokesman Josh Earnest lauded Austin for the integrity of his testimony, especially compared with critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy. “We haven’t seen that kind of character on display from our critics who have suggested for years that this [arming Syrian rebel forces] was the recipe for success in Syria.”
 Earnest called on critics of Obama’s policies to “fess up,” and characterized arguments that the United States could have turned the tide against Assad if it had done more sooner to militarily back Syrian rebel forces as throwing good money after bad: “It would call into question the vetting standards if somebody could do something in the space of four years that might prevent them from being included in that group. I don't think that there is a particularly strong case to be made that an earlier and more significant investment in a program that has shown not very good results — to put it mildly — is a recipe for success.”
 Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, also questioned whether the United States benefits from getting more militarily entangled in Syria’s civil war. “Sometimes the interventions backfire,” Paul said during last week’s debate, recalling how Iran benefited from the US overthrow of Saddam in Iraq.'

That doesn't make South Africa's stance* much of an anti-Western one.
'Zuma also took the opportunity to make a major foreign policy decision on Syria.
“To achieve lasting peace in Syria, the international community must reject all calls for regime change in that country,” he said. “The international community must not support external military interference or any action in Syria that is not in line with the charter of the United Nations. Support for non-state actors and terrorist organisations that seek to effect a regime change in Syria is unacceptable.” '

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