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RELEASE: Recommendations for U.S. Response to Syria in Light of Likely Use of Chemical Weapons

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Contact: Anne Shoup
Phone: 202.481.7146
Email: ashoup@americanprogress.org

Read the recommendations.

Washington, D.C. — As U.S. intelligence agencies have now confirmed that the Assad regime in Syria has likely used sarin nerve agent against opposition forces, the Center for American Progress released recommendations for the United States, beginning with immediate action at the U.N. Security Council to independently confirm the use of chemical weapons, the preparation of a multinational force with the limited mandate to prevent any future use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime by destroying appropriate military targets, and plans for a major multinational refugee relief mission in Jordan.

More than 70,000 Syrians have died in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that began in March 2011, and 1.3 million have fled their homes and country. Together, the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons and the regional strain of the refugee crisis call for additional actions from the United States, its regional partners and allies, and the international community as a whole.

American strategy so far has aimed at using tools short of direct and overt U.S. intervention to bring an end to the Assad regime. These tools have ranged from international diplomacy to create a framework to end the conflict, to attempts to unify the opposition, to current efforts to train rebel fighters in cooperation with regional allies. Given these new realities, however, additional steps are now required.

Key recommendations for the United States:

  • Take the lead in calling for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting and force Russia into active diplomacy that prevents them from serving as a shield for the Assad regime’s unacceptable behavior.
  • Provide definitive American leadership and direction in a broad alliance with NATO and regional partners ready to preclude any further Assad regime chemical-weapons use by destroying appropriate military targets, including delivery systems, logistics, and applicable command and control.
  • Request NATO and other allies begin planning for a major multinational refugee relief mission in Jordan.

There are no good policy options in Syria, and the reports of likely chemical-weapons use by the Assad regime only reinforce this conclusion. The military stalemate has not yet produced incentives for a political settlement for either the intransigent Assad regime or the fractured opposition. The worsening humanitarian situation is destabilizing a key U.S. ally in Jordan and a fragile Lebanon, while the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, when validated, crosses a redline that President Obama has repeatedly drawn.

The United States can take important steps forward by further solidifying and accelerating NATO planning on these issues as well as making an all-out diplomatic effort in the U.N. Security Council to investigate reports of Assad regime chemical-weapons use.

The following experts from the Center for American Progress are available to discuss Syria:

Read the recommendations: Responding to the Assad Regime’s Likely Use of Chemical Weapons by Peter Juul and Rudy deLeon

To speak with a CAP expert on this issue, please contact:

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To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7146 or ashoup@americanprogress.org

Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
202.478.6350 or cpatterson@americanprogress.org

Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.741.6277 or mmeth@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Lindsay Hamilton
202.483.2675 or lhamilton@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org