Dr. Ben Carson, who has now emerged as a frontrunner for the GOP nomination for President, offered an outline of his Syria strategy to Breitbart News on Wednesday.
Carson offered a multilateral strategy that seeks to weaken both the Assad regime in Damascus and the Islamic State terror group. The strategy provided a means to defend America’s national security interests, while extending protection for the United States’ regional allies, he maintained.
President Obama’s attempts to arm “moderate” Syrian rebels have thus far been a disaster, Carson opined, calling the measure an “abject failure.”
The retired pediatric neurosurgeon also noted Russia’s expansionism into the Middle East.
“Alarmingly, Vladimir Putin has now inserted both Russian military equipment and troops into Syria to help keep dictator Bashar al-Assad in power,” he said.
Russia’s presence in the Middle East continues to destabilize the region as a whole, and we must ensure that the United States stands with its regional allies in these trying times, he added.
“The instability that has consumed Syria” presents a “growing danger to Israel, our longtime ally in the Middle East,” Carson said. “The U.S. must stand with Israel to ensure her safety.”
Regarding the ongoing turmoil in Syria, Carson laid out a four-point plan for defending U.S. national interests in the region.
Firstly, the United States must “maintain current engagements with air and ground forces” in the area.
The U.S. should at the same time seek to weaken both Assad and ISIS, he maintained.
We should “continue to assist Syrian insurgent forces in their conflict against pro-Assad and ISIS forces with advisors, intelligence and weapons,” Carson said.
The United States must also work with its NATO ally, Turkey, in establishing a “no fly/no fire zone along the Turkish-Syrian border” to stabilize the escalating refugee situation. The strategy will help cut off the entry point for foreign fighters who wish to join ISIS, Carson added.
Carson’s no-fly zone proposal is shared by candidates from both the Republican and Democratic parties. GOP nominees Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich, and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, have all called for a no-fly zone in Syria to protect U.S.-backed forces on the ground there.
We should not back down to Russia’s demands to cede control of the airspace over Syria, Carson said, explaining that the United States should “establish airspace control mechanisms” with Russia “that reduce risk, while not ceding U.S. freedom of maneuver, anytime and anyplace.”
Dr. Carson’s offerings on Russia appear more hawkish than the propositions made by top GOP contender Donald Trump, who suggested last week that Russia propping up the Assad regime was an acceptable outcome. When presented with Pentagon statements concluding that Russia was more concerned with killing American-backed rebels than taking out ISIS terrorists, Trump did not appear concerned, stating: “I hear they’re hitting both” ISIS and the rebels.
Carson’s proposal for dealing with Russia also appears less aggressive than the measures offered by fellow GOP nominee Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has called for the immediate enacting of sanctions against Russia. Rubio said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin “is not involved in Syria out of an altruistic desire to defeat” the Islamic State, but instead wanted to ensure that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad remains in control of a “client state for Russia.”