2014 FPI Forum: The Middle East in Chaos

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The Middle East in Chaos

Ambassador Robert S. Ford, Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria

Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

Dr. Kimberly Kagan, President, Institute for the Study of War (Moderator)

Video  |  Key Quotes Transcript


Key Quotes

The Obama administration should “reconsider the no U.S. combat formations on the ground decision, because you may have to either renege on that, or you may have to fall off of your very important mission of destroying ISIS. I think there’s a gap between the two. … We [also] better put – like we’ve done in every other conflict I know of – advisory teams on the ground.”

– Ambassador James Jeffrey

“There needs to be a regional political effort at a higher level. It is very clear that we and the Turks are not on the same page about Syria and I don’t think we‘re fully on the same page about Iraq. … That is not something that an American ambassador in Ankara is going to be able to fix. We’re not on the same wave with the Saudis fully as well. And that is not something that the American ambassador in Riyadh is going to be able to fix. That is going to require some high level time … working with the leaders in those countries to come to an agreement on not only the Islamic State but a whole broader set of issues related to nation states and stability vs. reform."

– Ambassador Robert Ford

“To be very blunt, it is impossible to contain the Islamic State in even Iraq without also dealing with Syria. If nothing else, the Islamic State, having deep strategic depth in Syria, will enable it constantly to be a problem in Iraq. … It is not something which drone strikes or F-16 strikes is going to contain. … You are going to require boots on the ground. … This administration idea that the Free Syrian Army is going to fight the Islamic State without fighting the Assad regime – I have to tell you, the word ‘fantasy’ gets thrown around a lot on Syria, [but] that is the biggest fantasy.”

– Ambassador Robert Ford

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