A Republican lawmaker and presidential candidate blasted both Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford over the Obama administration’s “half-assed” Middle East policy at Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
While questioning Dunford, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., established that the Syrian people want to topple the Bashar al-Assad regime and eliminate Islamic State militants. Nonetheless, the three other fighting elements in Syria — Russia, Iran and Hezbollah — are all fighting for Assad.
“How do we leverage Assad leaving, when Russia’s going to fight for him, Iran’s going to fight for him, Hezbollah’s fighting for him, and we’re not going to do a damn thing to help people take him down?” Graham asked.
“And y’all both know that! So when Kerry goes over to Geneva, he is turning over Syria to the Russians and the Iranians.”
Any support the Obama administration would lend to the Syrian people, Graham said, would be political — not military.
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“If I’m Assad, this is a good day for me,” Graham concluded, “because the American government has just said without saying it that they’re not going to fight to replace me. What you’ve done, gentlemen, along with the president, is you’ve turned Syria over to Russia and Iran.”
Graham then turned his attention to the entire Middle East.
“All I can say is this is a bad day for America, and the region will pay hell for this, because the Arabs are not going to accept this. The people in Syria are not going to accept this,” Graham said. “This is a half-assed strategy at best.”
Watch the exchange below.
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