At Camp David, Obama reassures Gulf allies, sees no Syria military solution
U.S. President Obama and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders after a summit meeting at Camp David in Maryland, May 14, 2015. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)
President Barack Obama said Friday that there was “no military solution” for the war raging in Syria, stating he expected the conflict to continue after he leaves office in early 2017.
Obama, who made the remarks in an interview with Al-Arabiya, called the war, which has claimed nearly a quarter million lives, “heartbreaking but extremely complex.”
He said the U.S. did not take direct military action against the forces of President Bashar Assad because “they got rid of the chemical weapons,” referring to the 2013 decision by Damascus to destroy its stockpiles and accept inspections by an international watchdog.
The decision came after hundreds of people were killed in a chemical attack on the Ghouta suburbs of the capital, widely blamed on the regime.
The interview was broadcast one day after Obama hosted a summit of Gulf Arab states at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
The summit saw both Washington and the Gulf Cooperation Council agree to counter “destabilizing” acts by Iran, while the two sides stated that a nuclear deal with Iran would be in the security interests of the Gulf.
The GCC states also agreed to develop a ballistic missile defense capacity with U.S. help, while Washington would work to speed up the delivery of arms to the Gulf states.
In the interview, Obama said the U.S. military would work with Gulf Arab states and other nations in the event of conventional threats such as Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
He also urged Gulf states to build their capacity of special forces, arms interdiction and intelligence in order to identify less traditional or asymmetric threats.
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