By Samuel Burke
The international community’s lack of a coherent policy for Syria’s spiraling situation has now allowed the power vacuum to begin to fill with al-Qaeda elements, a senior intelligence official has told Christiane Amanpour. In addition, Jihadi elements are also working to fill that space.
With the radical presence increasing in Syria, calls for Western help to arm the rebels are growing. Wednesday, Mitt Romney’s Senior Foreign Advisor Richard Williamson, reiterated that the Republican presidential candidate believes the U.S. should openly help arm the opposition – a stance the Obama administration rejects and White House spokesman Jay Carney in late May said would add to the “chaos and carnage” in Syria.
In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, Williamson said, “This has gone on for seventeen months and early on Governor Romney said we should have people working with the opposition, trying to identify the moderate forces and help them unify.”
But when Amanpour pressed Richardson on other options to try and weaken Assad, he said Romney is reluctant. “He won’t join his friend John McCain and others who are calling for no fly zones and safe havens.” But he added, “Clearly it’s not something you can put off the table if this goes on.”
Vali Nasr, a former Senior Advisor to the Obama administration admits the U.S. has largely been reactive in Syria. “The conflict keeps metamorphosing into something worse. It goes in new directions, and then we try to come up to answers to what is happening.”
Nasr doesn’t believe the U.S. can continue its policy of non-engagement as Assad continues to lose his grip on power. “The danger now is that the situation in Syria is deteriorating very rapidly, and if we are going to have a policy of reaction to the latest development, then we will be chasing this ball in whatever direction itis going to go and that’s not where we want to be.”
The international community has pointed its fingers at China and Russia for blocking action against Assad by vetoing three resolutions in the U.N. On that matter Romney’s advisor said, “Yes, you work with them. But you don’t allow Russia to determine how the U.S. pursues its interest in Syria and you don’t allow Vladimir Putin to decide if you’re going to protect innocent people in Syria being killed in awful and horrific ways by a regime that’s going out the door.”
Williams echoed a chorus of criticism that is rising against the Obama Administration, accusing the U.S. of using Russia’s opposition to intervention in Syria as a convenient shield to postpone any action until after the November elections.