February 07, 2017

Corker Opening Statement at Hearing on "The Plan to Defeat ISIS: Key Decisions and Considerations"

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Hearing: "The Plan to Defeat ISIS: Key Decisions and Considerations"

February 7, 2017

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman

Opening Statement

I’d like to thank our witnesses for testifying today, and for your service to our country. I hope your experiences can be informative as we take stock of our efforts against ISIS.

Last month, President Trump asked for a new plan to defeat ISIS. The preliminary draft should be completed by the end of this month.

While the executive branch is looking at new options, I think this is a good time for us to take a look at what has been accomplished, what remains to be done, and what decisions need to be made.

As the battle for Mosul continues and preparations for Raqqa begin, I hope we can get your perspective on what additional steps to defeat ISIS could look like, and with whom we should partner.

The fight in Iraq appears to remain on course, but huge questions remain about the future of American influence and what role Iran will play in a post-ISIS Iraq.

Unfortunately, in Syria, the problem has only gotten harder with time. And now the Trump administration is faced with choosing the least bad option.

One decision they must make is who to involve in the military campaign.

Who actually clears Raqqa could have wide-ranging strategic consequences whether it is the Kurds, Kurdish supported Arabs, Turkey and the Syrian opposition, or the Assad regime and its allies.

I criticized the previous administration for a glaring disparity between their anti-ISIS efforts and their diplomatic efforts to end the Syrian civil war.

I would appreciate your perspectives on the logic that defeating ISIS without a political solution in Syria will simply lead to another ISIS, and whether or not it is possible to link the two strategies.

Finally, it is worth noting that the Department of Defense was tasked as the lead agency in developing this strategy.

This is probably a good moment for us to examine the structure the administration is using to lead the coalition and the role of the State Department.

With that, I’d like to thank you again for appearing before the committee, and I look forward to your testimony.