Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Qs and As w/State dept spox Psaki on US #CW Redline, Dempsey remarks August 21, 2013

US Redline re the CW usage in Syria

QUESTION:  -- the White House statement didn’t mention the redline that the President drew in the past.  Is the redline still there? 

MS. PSAKI:  Well, I think we talked about the redline and how it had been crossed a couple of months ago.  Now we’re focused on, obviously, new reports here.  I’m not – been in this business long enough not to draw new redlines, so I’m certainly not going to do that today, but our focus is on, as I’ve stated a couple of times, pushing for, calling for, encouraging in public and private conversations, access for the UN investigative team to look at all credible reports. 

QUESTION:  And why do you think the White House didn’t mention the redline?

MS. PSAKI:  Because they’ve talked about it – they talked about it a couple of months ago.  I’d refer you to them on that specifically. 

QUESTION:  Just to follow up on this particular issue, I have couple of questions.

MS. PSAKI:  Okay.

QUESTION:  One of them is just to follow up previous question about this redline.  So every time there is a alleged use of chemical weapon, that means that the Assad regime crosses this redline again?  Or do you have any --

MS. PSAKI:  Again, I’m not talking about redlines.  I’m not having a debate or conversation about redlines or I’m not setting redlines.  Let’s talk – not talk about red today.  (Laughter.)  I am talking – we’re – we’ve talked about that, we’ve litigated that, the White House has made announcements about that a couple of months ago.  What our focus is on now is looking at all reports, making sure – pushing for the UN investigative team to have access.  That’s what we think the appropriate step is.

QUESTION:  Speaking of redline actually, a year ago – (laughter) – President Obama talk about the redline for the first time  When you look at back year, for a year, do you think U.S. has been able to use its deterrence, or have the U.S. deterrence dealt a heavy blow by basically not backing what President Obama promised to do?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, clearly, when we announced a couple of months ago that that had been crossed, we made announcements about an expansion of the scale and scope of aid and also reiterated the fact that additional assistance, additional – all options remained on the table.  That discussion is ongoing.  And we’re looking at events on the ground every single day, just like we look at events in countries around the world. 


QUESTION:  In this particular White House statement, there is no reference to the Syrian Government responsibility.  So does it mean that you basically don’t know who did it and it could be the opposition or the regime?

MS. PSAKI:  Actually, there is.  I’m happy to read it to you.  “For the UN’s efforts to be credible, they must have immediate access to witnesses and affected individuals, and have the ability to examine and collect physical evidence without any interference or manipulation from the Syrian Government.”

QUESTION:  But not – you’re not blaming the Syrian Government.  I just wanted to make --

MS. PSAKI:  I’m just referencing exactly how it was used in the statement.  The onus is on them to provide unfettered access to the UN investigative team.


QUESTION:  Just one single question --

MS. PSAKI:  Okay.

QUESTION:  -- on the redline.  The reason I am asking – (laughter) – and many people are asking out there, and sincerely curious, that – if the U.S. still has the same assessment on the redline, that is going to take a game-changing step?  Or, since it has been a year, if the U.S. has now a new assessment and it doesn’t consider --

MS. PSAKI:  The announcement we made a couple of months ago still stands.  That’s why we expanded our scale and scope of aid, why we’ve continued to discuss additional options, why all options remain on the table, aside from boots on the ground.  So your --

QUESTION:  But you are not following through your promise, then.  That’s what --

MS. PSAKI:  That’s not true at all.  I’m not going to --

QUESTION:  But you are not changing the balance on the ground.

MS. PSAKI:  Let me finish.  Let me finish.  I’m not going to outline for you what – a laundry list of what we’re doing.  But we’ve talked about it in the past, we’ve talked about why we can’t talk about it in the past.  In terms of – our focus remains on strengthening the opposition, whether that’s the opposition on the ground or the political opposition.  We feel that we have made some progress and more work needs to be done, but we’re clearly working to move forward on Geneva.  We continue to remain in close contact with the SMC.  I think you’re combining a bunch of things and not actually asking questions about the reality of what the situation is on the ground and what we’re working on.

QUESTION:  Actually, it’s pretty clear what I am asking.  I’m just asking --

MS. PSAKI:  It’s not clear, but try again.  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  -- it’s just a game-changing step that means the – changing the balance of the power in favor of the opposition?  And whatever you have been referencing here for months, they have not the factors or things that are changing the balance of power, and is it not the promise that President Obama or this Administration given?  This is my question, and I don’t get the answer, because the factors you have been giving are not things that change the balance.

MS. PSAKI:  Well, as we announced a couple of months ago, the decisions we made to expand the scale and scope of aid, which, again, I’m not going to outline, was made in part because of the redline being crossed, and certainly the situation on the ground.  Our efforts every single day are focused on how we can strengthen the opposition, the moderate opposition, whether that’s working with the SMC or working with the political leaders in the opposition.  We know in recent months they’ve elected leadership.  We’re working with them to encourage them to have appropriate representation at a Geneva conference.  That’s where our focus remains.  All options still remain on the table aside from boots on the ground, and those discussions are ongoing.


General Dempsey remarks re "if the Syrian opposition would win agains the Assad regime, they wouldnt back the US interests" 

QUESTION:  The earlier questions about the General Dempsey – in those remarks, General Dempsey also said that Syrian rebels wouldn’t back U.S. interests if they replace the Assad regime.  Is this your assessment right now?

MS. PSAKI:  I’m just – I don’t want to do any more analysis.  I would refer you to the Department of Defense for what he meant by his comments --

QUESTION:  Sure.  Let me ask --

MS. PSAKI:  -- and what he was trying to convey.

QUESTION:  Let me ask this way, then.

MS. PSAKI:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Do you think that if the Syrian rebels would win, that would be for the U.S. interests?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, clearly, we’ve supported the opposition – the moderate opposition – and we think that it’s best for the Syrian people for Assad to go.  That has not changed.  So our position has been the same.


QUESTION:  But Jen, on that, like one of the – the premise for Geneva is that both sides can sit down together and the political opposition will be there ready to represent themselves --

MS. PSAKI:  Uh-huh.  Yep, you’re right.

QUESTION:  -- and their interests.  So you can’t comment on what General Dempsey is thinking, but clearly, he disagrees with the assessment of this building, which is that the opposition is ready to even move forward with Geneva.  If they can’t represent themselves and their own interests, how could they possibly attend a peace conference?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, what I will say about that is that we continue to work with the opposition to make sure they have a strong, viable representation to attend Geneva.  That’s part of our conversation with them.  It’s certainly part of what would need to happen and be determined before we would have a conference

PS. Reds by other reporters.

No comments: