To accelerate the defeat of the legitimate Syrian government, Flournoy introduced the notion of a “no bombing” zone for the moderate rebels. These so-called moderates are widely accepted as being, in reality, the US-backed armed militias that have been tearing the country apart since the beginning of the civil war in 2011.
To justify her hawkish proposals, Flournoy took the traditional path, resorting to the Russian factor. She claimed that Moscow’s engagement since September 2015 in the war, at the invitation of the Syrian government, does not “support the kind of negotiated conditions we would like to get to.”
The Pentagon, however, appears to have other plans in mind for Syria and Iraq. According to a CNAS report, prepared in cooperation with an “ISIS Study Group” co-chaired by Flournoy, Washington must “go beyond the current Cessation of Hostilities.” By that, the paper means a so-called no-bomb-zone, which suggests US retaliation against the Assad government, if Damascus continues to resist the American-backed militants. Proposed retaliation measures include airstrikes on “security apparatus facilities in Damascus.”
“If you bomb the folks we support, we will retaliate using standoff means to destroy [Russian] proxy forces, or, in this case, Syrian assets,” Flournoy told Defense One.
At the same time, the report sensibly cautioned against hitting Russian airbases in Syria.
Earlier, she called for increasing the number of combat missions against Daesh, sending more advisors to train Iraqi soldiers and allocating more weapons to Sunni tribes and the Kurds in Iraq. She also called for maintaining the infamously inadequate train-and-equip program that graduated just five moderate rebels, and cost US taxpayers over $500 million.
According to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, Flournoy is now on the “short, short” list for the job of US Secretary of Defense.