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Does U.S. have plan for a post-Assad Syria?

July 25th, 2012
10:45 AM ET

Former U.S. National Security Adviser, General Jim Jones tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour the absence of such a plan would have grave consequences – for Syria and the rest of the region.

“It was okay to be surprised by Tunisia for example,” General Jones said. “Maybe you could excuse it a little bit in Egypt. But Syria is a real big strategic country, particularly as it relates to stability in the Middle East. What happens to Lebanon for example if Assad goes? What happens to Iran?”

But does a plan exist? General Jones, a former member of the Obama administration, didn’t confirm it. But he did stress the importance of having one: “Obviously we should have a plan. As a global leader we need to consider what the elements of that plan are.”

Then he put forward his own framework: “From my standpoint it’s not just about sending in troops but it’s about having economic incentives and packages. It could be international; it could be multinational, but we have to figure out as quickly as possible who’s likely to emerge in a leadership position, how do we talk to them, and how do you put something on the table that meets the expectations of the people of Syria who are putting their lives on the line for a better life and a better future.”

With a leader like Assad, you can’t just hope they won’t be used

On Monday, President Obama warned the Assad regime that it would be “held accountable” if it decided to use its stockpile of chemical weapons. “The President did the right thing by drawing the line in the sand,” said General Jones. “And I think some of our recalcitrant friends and allies like the Russians and the Chinese ought to b e thinking about that very seriously as well.”

Asked if there are military plans to go in and get those chemical weapons, he said, “I don’t know. But I do know that whether Assad himself uses them or not, after he leaves, it would be wise to have a plan to go in and secure those weapons before they really do fall into the wrong hands, just as we did with Libya.”

In the meantime, the current situation is sufficiently dangerous: “In a moment of desperation, with a leader like Assad, you can’t just hope they won’t be used. And even if he doesn’t use them, at the end of the day they have to be secured; otherwise they might fall into the wrong hands and then we might have even a bigger problem.”

Could those “wrong hands” belong to al Qaeda? General Jones “wouldn’t discount that.” He went further and said, “I wouldn’t discount other interest groups, particularly terrorist organizations, from having that goal. It’s always been a goal of an organization like al Qaeda to achieve and to attain weapons of mass destruction.”

“So this is one of the big reasons why we’re concerned about Iran,” he added, “not only because of what they might do, but because it might trigger a nuclear arms race in the Gulf and it also might find its way to the non-state actors.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. CNN?

    Every time these lunatics aka rebels walk into a town or city, they bring destruction upon the people of those areas. These cowardly terrorists fight along civilians, using them as human shields, don’t have the audacity to take their battles in open grounds and challenge the government.

    They are fighting a lost cause, self-destructing their own nation, killing their own soldiers, annihilating their country’s infrastructure, while other nations are acting as an audience and laughing. Do these monstrous people even realize they have pushed their nation back to the 1800’s and will take decades to rebuild?

    July 25, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Reply
    • toni

      The people of Syria have a right to demand their freedom. Decades of dictatorship and repression brought this on. I desperately want this revolution to succeed! Assad needs to leave power and let this country move on and build a better future. He has destroyed it, not the people.

      July 26, 2012 at 4:12 am | Reply
    • gmpf

      "These cowardly terrorists fight along civilians, using them as human shields, don’t have the audacity to take their battles in open grounds and challenge the government"
      They are not terrorist since they do not attack civilian targets in order to create/spread terror. instead they are attacking military targets. so they can only be considered rebels the one that is deliberatelly and knowingly attacking civilian targets is Assads regime.
      why should they find on open ground where they are weaker and outgunned? They chose the correct tactic (guerilla war) which doesn't make them cowards. It still takes guts to close in on the tank and put a rocket in it.

      July 26, 2012 at 8:10 am | Reply
  2. CNN reader

    The question about Syria's future should be tended to by Syrian people and the U.N., shouldn't it?

    July 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Reply
  3. gazzman

    Does US have post failed CIA coup plan?

    July 26, 2012 at 12:57 am | Reply
  4. Kit Gainer

    Americans are going to Disneyland. We don't give a rat's @ss if the terrorist kill each other, or kill Russians. It's not our problem dude.

    July 26, 2012 at 3:42 am | Reply
  5. lebanese chrisitian

    i want to say congratulation to usa now they put hand by hand with quaeda fighters against syrian army , quaeda who kill people in manhaten, now for usa these fighters are the good guys and army the bad , i think they forget the pentagon it was a terrorist act for them but what happen in syria was not a terrorist act , russia read better the future and do what is more logic , for long time christians in middle east live better than now , because of usa number of christians decrease in middle east and example is in iraq where ever usa go they make christians life more bad
    better if they stay far for them and for us

    July 26, 2012 at 8:40 am | Reply
  6. Big Cheese

    Why does the US have to have a plan... I would imagine the bigger question is does Syria have a plan for itself!?

    July 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  7. Togmbf

    To: gmbf

    Yes the rebels are terrorists, They kill civilians, they slaughter them at checkpoints like they did and still are doing in Qusayr,
    stop marketing for them the image of innocent revolutionaries fighting for their liberty. the only liberty they want contradicts the freedom of any other citizen not adopting their islamic rules.

    July 27, 2012 at 7:07 am | Reply

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