February 25, 2016

Corker on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Laments Outcome of Syria Civil War “Totally in Russia’s Hands Now”

Assad, Russia and Iran Taking Advantage of Missed U.S. Opportunities to Shift Conflict in Favor of Free Syrian Opposition

WASHINGTON – In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the outcome of Syria’s civil war “is totally in Russia’s hands now” after years of missed opportunities by the Obama administration to support the free Syrian opposition, which has allowed Moscow to intervene militarily on behalf of the regime of Bashar al-Assad. A provisional ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia is set to take effect in Syria on Saturday, but Corker warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to stop military operations until the Assad regime, which also is receiving support from Iran, consolidates territory retaken from the opposition.

“What we did wrong was we left a vacuum there for so long and left the Syrian opposition just hanging,” said Corker. “Putin, Assad and Iran know that this administration is not going to do anything to push back against them, so…Russia will begin that cessation when they believe they’ve gotten all the terrain control that they want [Assad] to control. It’s totally in Russia’s hands now. When you…talk with John Kerry…he’s more frustrated with the Syrian opposition than he is Iran and Russia.”

Asked about implications of the Iran nuclear deal and recent reports of a new U.S. citizen being held by Iran, Corker reiterated his opposition to the nuclear agreement and said the accord is only empowering the aggression of the Iranian regime, which recently signed a deal with Russia to purchase fighter jets that would violate restrictions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.

“It's empowered them in the region,” Corker added. “[T]hey’re viewed now as this major force because they’ve accomplished this deal with the United States and the other large countries, and they’re going to continue to do what they’re doing.”

Corker also expressed how the lack of U.S. leadership to counter global threats to peace and stability is raising fear among the American people about their own security.

“I was in the Balkans last week after being in Munich, and I can just tell you the whole world is longing for the United States to assume the role that the United States has played for so long,” he added. “The world is not the place it should be without our leadership, and it’s just not there…so the American people see that.”

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