Speaking during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on March 13, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, claimed Russia and Iran are destabilizing the fight against ISIS in Syria and accused Tehran and Moscow of preventing Syria from “moving forward.”
“Our mission in Syria is strictly focused on defeating ISIS,” Votel said. “The biggest threat in Syria right now is all the other instability that is taking place that is preventing the country from moving forward …Certainly Iran is an aspect of this but so is Russia.“
The general claimed that Moscow acts as “both arsonist and firefighter” fueling tensions among different forces and then attempting to arbitrate disputes. Thus, Russia is allegedly undermining relations between Turkey and the U.S.
“So I am concerned about this role that Russia plays in northern Syria and how it impacts all of our relationships and especially relations between us and Turkey,” he said adding Turkey has been “a key partner in the fight against ISIS here for a long period of time, and we do recognize they have legitimate concerns with security along their border from terrorism.”
The commander of the CENTCOM continued saying that the US will challenge the Iranian and Russian efforts iin the region.
“Iran has been a key enabler of the regime for a while… [Russia] also is a key enabler of the regime,” he said. If Russia, Syria and Iran do win in the region, “it means we will contend with this influence of Iran in this particular area and the influence of Russia.”
Votel also said that the UN ceasefire imposed last month has had little effect and complained that the increase of Russian air defense capabilities in Syria threaten the US air power’s dominance.
In other words, Syria, Russia and Iran are guilty that the US had failed to overthrow the Assad government and to instal a puppet regime in the country. Now, the US has to digest the consequences of its regional policy.