Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) has called on the Senate to form a bipartisan study group to perform a “top to bottom review” of US policy toward Syria. In a letter sent Tuesday to Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), she requested that the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs provide funding for a Syria Study Group “facilitated by the US Institute of Peace” and modeled on the 2006 Iraq Study Group, which issued a report calling for the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq, among other recommendations. In her letter, Shaheen wrote that while “the counter-ISIS effort has made substantial progress” in Syria, “the US has not made demonstrable progress in our efforts to negotiate an end to the Syrian civil war.” The peace process in Syria has been ineffective, according to the letter, because Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used “support from Russia, Iran, and [Hezbollah]” to extend the conflict. Shaheen hopes that a Syria Study Group would produce “a policy approach that closes the current gap between US goals and concrete US commitments.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.