National Security Brief: Congress Demanding Greater U.S. Role In Syria

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said on Sunday that the U.S. should send troops into Syria to help train and equip rebels fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. While Rogers said that “it’s probable” Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against the rebels in the last two years — a move that President Obama has said will prompt the U.S. to become greater involved in the conflict. However, in an interview on Fox News last week, Rogers said he had no proof that chemical weapons had been used.

Meanwhile, joining Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) in ratcheting up the rhetoric, Senate Intelligence chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) backed up the president’s words. “If there is evidence that the government of Syria has used chemical weapons, and intends to use them in the future, as the president said, ‘This is the red line,’” she said, adding that it’s “important” that the U.S. and the international community receive confirmation before acting. “You cannot say, ‘This is the red line,’ and then not enforce it,” Feinstein said. “

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said he’s “inclined” to support a so-called “safe zone” for Syrian rebels inside the country, which he added “could very well include some kind of air activity or no-fly zone.” And Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said on Friday, “Circumstances on the ground in Syria continue to change in ways that will move us closer and closer toward some sort of multilateral action,” Coons said on MSNBC, “especially if there is a confirmation that the Assad regime … has used chemical weapons.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that “[w]ith help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.”


In other news:

  • According to the Washington Times: The 2009 cyberattack by the U.S. and Israel that crippled Iran’s nuclear program by sabotaging industrial equipment constituted “an act of force” and was likely illegal under international law, according to a manual commissioned by NATO’s cyberwarfare center in Estonia.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports: Secretary of State John Kerry, on a surprise one-day visit to Baghdad, pressed Iraqi officials Sunday to cut off the flow of Iranian arms to the Syrian government and warned that future American aid to Iraq could be at risk if it doesn’t.