Are you as confused as everyone else about America’s view of the Syrian Question?
Here are the last week’s developments, in a nutshell. Let’s see if anyone can keep up:
** US secretary of State John Kerry has called for regional boots on the ground, ie Syrian and Arab troops to take on Isil but there is no indication how and when this can happen
** Mr Kerry’s deputy, Tony Blinken, has said that the chances of crafting a political transition in Syria were better than “at any time during this crisis” and it’s all, “ironically” because of Russia. Mr Blinken was indicating that the US is confident that the Jan 1, 2016 deadline for the start of negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition would be met. But – and there’s a huge but – the agreement does not yet have buy-in from the Syrian rebels or the Assad regime. It’s true that the Russians and the Iranians met in Vienna with the US and Saudi Arabia to sign a statement in support of the deadline, but that is not firm enough guarantee the talks will begin.
** US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said the Pentagon would send a “specialized expeditionary targeting force” of elite troops to Iraq with freedom to operate inside Syria as well
** Then, his defense officials said the force would consist of about 100 troops who would conduct raids to kill or capture Isil’s leadership
** After this, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it would actually be “about 200” troops
** And then the spokesman for the US-led anti-Isil coalition, Col Steve Warren, said it would really be “around 100, maybe a little bit less.” Of those, only a “double digit” number will be “trigger-pullers” he said, with the rest being made up of support personnel, including pilots.
** Last but not least, if those US troops newly despatched to Syria and Iraq are supposed to capturing Isil leaders and interrogating them, where will they be kept? And who will get them to divulge information?