US Rep,ex-ambassador team up to end US occupation of Syria
Robert Ford, who as ambassador to Syria advocated for a tough strategy toward Syria, is now supporting Gaetz's proposal to end the remaining US occupation.
The Obama administration's senate representative, a strong advocate in support of aggressively challenging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is now backing a push by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., to force the US to leave the country within 180 days, The Intercept highlighted in a new report.
In a letter to Congress in support of Gaetz's legislation, Robert Ford said that the US mission lacks a defined goal. "After more than eight years of military operations in Syria, there is no concept of what 'enduring' defeat of ISIS would look like," Ford says in the letter, as per a letter obtained by the Intercept.
"We owe it to our warriors serving in harm's path to have a real debate about whether their mission is actually doable," the letter added.
NEWS: The Congressional Progressive Caucus is urging a "yes" vote on @mattgaetz 's War Powers Resolution tomorrow, which would require US troops to withdraw from Syria within 180 days, according to a message circulated this evening to members— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) March 7, 2023
The Congressional Progressive Caucus, or CPC, sent a letter to its membership on Tuesday evening encouraging a yes vote, resulting in a serious bipartisan coalition.
“This measure to remove unauthorized deployment of U.S. Armed Forces in Syria unless a specific statutory authorization is enacted within six months is largely consistent with previous bipartisan efforts led by CPC Members to terminate such unauthorized military presence within one year, for which 130 House Democrats voted yes last year,” read the letter.
It is worth noting that the resolution is set for a vote Wednesday afternoon.
Gaetz's original proposal called for troops to leave Syria in 15 days, but he extended it to six months in the hopes of garnering widespread support. If Congress discussed and authorized the intervention, the new legislation, a war powers resolution that is privileged on the House floor, would empower troops to stay longer.
The Republican's introduction of the resolution, most notably with such a short timetable that would doom it to a lopsided defeat, sparked a flurry of lobbying to turn it into a bipartisan coalition, including progressive groups like Just Foreign Policy and Demand Progress, as well as conservative groups like FreedomWorks, Concerned Veterans for America, and Citizens for Renewing America.
Because of the rapidity with which it is being brought to the floor, there is limited time for grassroots mobilization. "The CPC has been leading on this front for a long time, and nothing has changed. I wish Gaetz had worked more closely with the coalition of groups working on this and the CPC," said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., deputy chair of the CPC, who collaborated with Gaetz to get the legislation to a point where Democrats could support it.
Ford previously backed a 2021 legislative attempt by New York Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman, whose proposal to the National Defense Authorization Act would have given the US a year to withdraw from Syria. Bowman's bill received support from 21 Republicans and nearly half of the Democratic caucus.
Despite the growth of an anti-interventionist section of the Republican Party, votes against American policies abroad continue to be overwhelmingly Democratic. Bowman pressed for another floor vote in July 2022, this time gaining 25 Republicans and defeating the Democratic caucus 130-88.
In 2019, Gaetz and a few other Republicans endorsed President Donald Trump's campaign to eliminate the US presence in Syria, joined by Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, who defied their party to support Trump's proposed pullout. Yet, like Trump's withdrawal from Afghanistan, he never accomplished it, losing the internal power battle to proponents of a sustained occupation.
Opposition to US meddling in Syria has been bipartisan since the beginning of the war. In 2013, Daily Kos and HuffPost produced whip counts before of an Obama-called vote to authorize the use of force, urging progressives to vote no. Before Obama pulled the legislation from the floor, HuffPost counted 243 members of Congress who planned to vote no or leaning no before Obama pulled the legislation from the floor.
Ford resigned in 2014, upset that the Obama administration was not providing more weapons to militants to, at the very least, inflict additional losses against Syrian troops in order to force Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to the bargaining table.
He contended that the need to minimize "US involvement" compromised the objective of that involvement." In other words, go big or go home — and Ford is now arguing that US troops ought to go home and that the Gaetz measure is a vehicle to help make that happen," the report said.
Responding to a question about whether the idiom sums up his argument, he said, “And remember that ‘go big’ offers no guarantee of success, “We went big in Iraq and had mixed results.”
The legal rationale of US occupation!
The legal rationale for US occupation is, at best, murky. With "ISIS defeated", the administration has suggested that the occupation's objective is to serve "as a deterrent to Iran", the Washington Post previously reported.
More importantly, there is no permission to deploy troops overseas to counter Iran, according to Ford.
"The 2001 authorization of the use of military force was all about Al Qaeda and, to a secondary extent, the Taliban and Afghanistan,” he said.
Ford contended that US withdrawal would permit the type of negotiations required to bring some stability to the region.
Commenting on the draconian sanctions on Syria, Ford acknowledged that it was time to take a hard look at whether they were working and at what cost."
“All I can say is we’re inflicting pain without getting much for it,” he concluded.
Why does the US continue to station troops in Syria?
Since ISIS has been defeated in Syria and Iraq, many analysts argued that the reasons for the US to remain stationed in Syrian territory have been left unclear.
The US frequently loots oil from Syrian gas fields and transports them to other occupation bases in Iraq via illegal crossings. Syrian news agency SANA reported last Saturday that US occupation troops have looted a new batch of oil from Syria's al-Jazeera fields. The convoy is on its way to reach US military bases in Iraq via the illegal al-Mahmudiya crossing in the al-Yarubiya region.
According to civilian sources, the convoy is made of 23 vehicles and includes covered trucks and tanks filled with stolen oil. The sources further added that an additional convoy made up of 34 trucks exited the illegal al-Walid crossing in al-Yarubiya.
The last time US troops plundered Syrian oil was on February 27th. The oil was looted from the same al-Jazeera fields and was transported to Iraq via illegal crossings. US troops claim to be occupying the area in order to rid the region of terrorists, yet the US has strategically implanted itself there for the purposes of stealing Syria's oil, as well as destabilizing President Bashar al-Assad's government.
In December of 2022, Syria's foreign ministry said the US occupation forces and their affiliated military groups' systematic lootings of Syrian oil, wheat, and other national resources have amounted to direct losses valued at $25.9 billion and indirect losses valued at over $86 billion.
It further estimated the total value of the Syrian oil sector losses to amount to $111.9 billion.
Read more: Russian-Syrian coordination: The US is looting Syrian oil