Tillerson on Syria: Military Posture Towards Assad Has Not Changed; Trump Not Seeking Regime Change


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson joined ABC’s George Stephanopoulos to discuss the evolving U.S. policy towards Syria on Sunday’s edition of ‘This Week.’ Tillerson reiterated that the Trump administration is not seeking regime change in Syria and its “military posture” towards the Assad regime remains unchanged after Thursday’s missile strikes.

“The president was very clear in his message to the American people that [Thursday’s] strike was related solely to the most recent horrific use of chemical weapons,” Tillerson explained.

“he strike was a message to Bashar al-Assad that your multiple violations of your agreements at the UN, your agreements under the chemical weapons charter back in 2013 that those would not go without a response,” he said. “We’re calling on Bashar al-Assad to cease the use of these weapons. Other than that, there is no change to our military posture.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But but you accept that right now, the Syrian people have no way to remove Assad. That’s going to take greater pressure from the United States, from the international coalition, perhaps military pressure.

TILLERSON: Well ultimately it could, George, but we’ve seen what that looks like when you undertake a violent regime change in Libya and the situation in Libya continues to be very chaotic and I would argue that the life of the Libyan people has — is not all that well off today, so I think we have to learn the lessons of the past and learn the lessons of what went wrong in Libya when you choose that pathway of regime change. So we know this is going to be hard work, but we think it’s also a process that will lead to a durable and lasting stability inside of Syria. Any time you go in and have a violent change at the top, it is very difficult to create the conditions for stability longer term.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it sounds like from what you’re saying right now, there is no real change in the United States’ military stance towards Syria from what it was last week.

TILLERSON: That’s correct, George. This strike — I think the president was very clear in his message to the American people that this strike was related solely to the most recent horrific use of chemical weapons against women, children, and as the president said, even small babies, so the strike was a message to Bashar al-Assad that your multiple violations of your agreements at the UN, your agreements under the chemical weapons charter back in 2013 that those would not go without a response in the future and we are asking Russia to fulfill its commitment and we’re asking and calling on Bashar al-Assad to cease the use of these weapons. Other than that, there is no change to our military posture.


Tillerson’s entire ‘This Week’ interview, which happens to be his first Sunday Show interview as Secretary of State:

source

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