Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Congress Calls for Clear Strategy on Syria

Congress Calls for Clear Strategy on Syria

Friday, 16 April, 2021 - 07:45
Parents of journalist Austin Tice, detained in Syria, at a press conference to demand his release in 2018 (AP)

Members of the US Congress have urged the Biden administration to implement all provisions of the Caesar Act to increase pressure on the Syrian regime and its allies.

During a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism on “10 Years of War: Examining the Ongoing Conflict in Syria,” congressmen called on the US administration to formulate a clear strategy in Syria as soon as possible.

The head of the committee, Democratic Representative Ted Deutch, asserted that the US is in a position to pressure the Syrian regime and reach a diplomatic solution for the crisis.

He accused the regime led by Bashar al-Assad of trying to erase Idlib province from existence, adding that the conflict helped Iran expand its influence and Russia assert its control as a major player in the region.

He pointed out that Assad and his Iranian backers continue to “brutalize” the Syrian people.

Deutch stressed the need to work for the release of the US detainees in Syria, specifically journalist Austin Tice, and Syrian-US doctor Majid Kamalmaz, asserting that Congress has not forgotten the Syrian people.

Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who is the top Republican on the subcommittee, called for Assad’s ouster, describing the regime as “illegitimate” and should be replaced.

He also called on the US administration to adopt a different approach, because all the attempts that sought to reach a solution, in cooperation with Russia and Iran, had failed.

Wilson urged the Biden administration to act quickly to prevent Assad from annihilating Idlib.

The session comes at a time when the US intelligence services issued the “2021 Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” report, which also touched on the situation in Syria.

The report warned that the conflict, economic decline, and humanitarian crises will plague Syria during the next few years, and threats to US forces will increase.

Assad is firmly in control of the core of Syria, but he will struggle to reestablish control over the entire country against residual insurgency, including reinforced Turkish forces, extremists, and opposition in Idlib, noted the report.

“Assad will stall meaningful negotiations and rely on the support of Russia and Iran. The Kurds will face increasing Syrian regime, Russian, and Turkish pressure, especially as Kurdish economic and humanitarian conditions decline and if the United States withdraws forces.”

The report noted that the US forces in eastern Syria will face threats from Iranian and Syrian-regime-aligned groups, mostly through deniable attacks, warning that terrorists will try to launch attacks on the West from their safe havens in the country.

It also predicted that the increased fighting or an economic collapse might spur another wave of migration.

Editor Picks