Syria in the Nation's Capital
Jeffrey on the Record: Before leaving his post, U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey disclosed his views regarding President Trump’s handling of Syria in the northeast. Jeffrey candidly observed to Defense One that while Trump’s initial announcements to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria were the “most controversial” decisions taken in Jeffrey’s 50 years of public service, that in the end the current American posture has produced more stability in the area than actions taken by the previous two Presidents. Jeffrey concluded that from a realpolitik perspective, containing and blocking the advances of Iran in Syria and Iraq are net positives for the region. Jeffrey also admitted senior leaders in the administration were not told that U.S. troop levels in Syria are higher than they believed stating, “we were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there.”
NDAA in Doubt?: House Armed Services ranking member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) raised concerns that the fallout of the 2020 congressional elections could prevent passage of a conference report to the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization bills (HR 6395/S 4049). Some lawmakers are recommending Congress delay a conference report until after the Senate runoff elections in Georgia on January 5th. This would avoid any potential political impact from passing an NDAA that would include language requiring that Confederate base names, including Fort Benning in Georgia, be changed. Thornberry warned that between the upcoming presidential inauguration and the formation of committees under a new Congress, the process to draft an NDAA would have to start all over in 2021.
Iranian Websites Shut Down: The Department of Justice recently announced that over two dozen Internet domain names were to be taken down due to violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. According to the affidavit filed by federal authorities these websites were operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as part of a global disinformation campaign. Among this group included “syria-victory.com” and “aleppospace.com”. Both entities targeted Syrian audiences with media content critical of the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel.