Obama asked Pentagon to prepare Syria no-fly zone plans – report

Officials from the Obama administration have revealed that the White House asked the Pentagon to outline plans for a military no-fly zone over Syria, continuing strategy discussions that have been ongoing for more than a year.

If enacted, the no-fly zone would be enforced by the US military
with help from France, Great Britain and other allies.

This update is the latest in
President Obama’s strategy to publicly advocate for a negotiated
peaceful solution while, after speculating that Syria’s President
Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, he has reportedly been
weighing the benefits of direct military aid to the country’s
insurgency. Two administration officials, speaking with The
Daily Beast, stressed that no military decisions have been
finalized.

The White House is still
in contemplation mode but the planning is moving forward and it’s
more advanced than it’s ever been
,” said one official, who
remained anonymous. “All this effort to pressure the regime is
part of the overall effort to find a political solution, but what
happens if Geneva fails
? It’s only prudent to plan for
other options
.”

More than 70,000 people have
been killed in Syria as the conflict has continued for more than
two years, and another three and a half million have been forced
out of their homes and across the border into
Jordan. 

A rebel fighter of the Syrian Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) has a flower in his Russian made 'AK-47' kalashnikov gun as he holds a position in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood in the Syrian city of Aleppo on May 9, 2013 (AFP Photo / Str)

Pentagon Press Secretary
George Little denied the anonymous White House quotes, reminding
the public that the US has closely monitored the unrest since the
dawn of the Arab Spring. However, Richard Engel of NBC News
reported that no-fly zone discussions had been ongoing for more
than one year. 

There is no new military
planning effort underway with regard to Syria
,” Little said.
The Joint Staff, along with the relevant combatant
commanders, continue to conduct prudent planning for a range of
possible military operations
.” 

A no-fly zone is often enacted
as a final precaution before military intervention. The no-fly
zone in question, according to The Daily Beast, was requested
shortly before US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled through
the Middle East last week attempting to convince Syrian rebel
forces and President Assad to negotiate the end of the Syrian
civil war next month in Geneva, Switzerland. As a precondition
for negotiation, the rebels have demanded Assad leave power, a
scenario that is difficult to imagine. 

Before this news was made
public lawmakers pushed Obama and his advisors to clarify the
exact goals of any means of intervention, most notably those of a
no-fly zone, which would be difficult to implement.  

One thing about the
Pentagon, if they don’t want to do something, they will tell you
all sorts of reasons why they can’t do it
,” Senator John
McCain (R-Arizona) told The Daily Beast last week. “It’s going
to take significant pressure for them to come up with realistic
plans. They will invent ways for us not to do it until the
president of the United States says we’ve got to do
it
.”

US Senator John McCain (C-L) posing for a picture with Syrian rebel leader General Salim Idris (C-R) and other members of the Syrian opposition in the Syrian border town of Bab al-Salam, near Turkey, on May 27, 2013 (AFP Photo / Mouaz Moustafa / HO / Syrian Emergency Task Force)

A previous, failed peace
conference led to another year of bloodshed, while another
administration official told The Daily Beast that the meeting in
Geneva next month “is a Kerry initiative.” 

Government sources previously
told the New Yorker that military action in Syria would likely
constitute a “nightmare scenario” both tactically and on
the home front, where Americans are “exhausted” from the
seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

A no-fly zone would be
perceived as the first step in getting bogged down in another,
possibly unwinnable war. Gary Bass, a Princeton professor who has
written about intervention overseas, warned that military action
could be unnecessarily costly. 

The political price is
always heavily slanted against intervention when there is no core
national-security interest involved
,” he said.

This article originally appeared on: RT