JOSH ROGIN, who is on a roll right now, is reporting exclusively for the Daily Beast that the Obama administration, along with all volunteer allies, so to speak, is readying for a no-fly zone over Syria. Rogin broke the news with Jake Tapper today on CNN.
The request was made shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry toured the Middle East last week to try and finalize plans for an early June conference between the Syrian regime and rebel leaders in Geneva. The opposition, however, has yet to confirm its attendance and is demanding that the end of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s rule be a precondition for negotiations, a condition Assad is unlikely to accept.
President Obama’s dual-track strategy of continuing to pursue a political solution to the two-year-old uprising in Syria while also preparing for more direct U.S. military involvement includes authorizing the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the first time to plan for multilateral military actions inside Syria, the two officials said. They added that no decisions on actually using force have yet been made.
“The White House is still in contemplation mode but the planning is moving forward and it’s more advanced than it’s ever been,” one administration official told The Daily Beast. “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.”
The no-fly zone will not be instituted in a vacuum. Arming elements of the Syrian opposition is also being considered, as is “formally recognizing the Syrian opposition council.”
France and Britain will be two of the allies joining in the no-fly zone over Syria. It comes after the EU arms embargo collapsed, mainly because the leaders of both nations believed it was time to consider arming rebels and other offensive support, which Rogin confirms includes a no-fly zone.