WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met on Tuesday with about 10 of the 51 State Department officials who last week wrote a cable disagreeing with U.S. policy toward Syria and arguing for “a more militarily assertive U.S. role.”
Multiple U.S. officials have said they do not expect the memo, conveyed through the State Department’s relatively rarely used “dissent channel,” a conduit for voicing contrary views, to change U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy.
In the cable, the diplomats call for military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s government to stop its persistent violations of a civil war ceasefire
Obama’s policy toward Syria, where a civil war has burned for more than five years, has been predicated on the goal of avoiding deeper military entanglements in the Middle East, and has been widely criticized as hesitant and risk-averse.
Obama’s limited intervention has focused on fighting the Islamic State militant group that controls a swathe of Syria and Iraq and that has inspired attacks on U.S. soil. The memo by the State Department officials demanded a more muscular stance.
While State Department spokesman John Kirby said that Kerry had met with about 10 of the officials for half an hour on Tuesday, he declined to provide details of their discussion about the cable, which the department has not made public.
“We believe that achieving our objectives will continue to elude us if we do not include the use of military force as an option to enforce the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) and compel the Syrian regime to abide by its terms as well as to negotiate a political solution in good faith,” said a draft of the memo posted online by The New York Times.
Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Sandra Maler