Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has called for establishing a “no-fly zone” over Syria in an effort to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
In a foreign policy address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Tuesday, Bush said a no-fly zone and other “safe zones” in Syria would not only help in the fight against the ISIL terrorist group, but would also help defeat the Syrian government.
“Defeating ISIS (ISIL) requires defeating Assad, but we have to make sure that his regime is not replaced by something as bad or worse,” said the Republican, adding that he would “draw the moderates together and back them up as one force.”
Bush blamed President Barack Obama and former secretary of state and Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton for the rise of ISIL in the Middle East.
He said Obama’s withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2011 was the “fatal error” that facilitated the formation of the terror network.
“So eager to be the history-makers, they failed to be the peacemakers,” Bush said. “Rushing away from danger can be every bit as unwise as rushing into danger, and the costs have been grievous,” he added.
Former president George W. Bush, Jeb’s brother, signed the security agreement in 2008 that called for US troops to leave Iraqi cities by 2009 and be out of the country entirely by 2011.
Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s top foreign policy adviser, however, tied the roots of ISIL back to the Bush administration and said the group did not grow “out of a vacuum.”
In a call with reporters, Sullivan said ISIL was created out of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which sprung up because of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Republican candidate vowed to be “unyielding” in defeating “barbarians” of ISIL.
“I assure you: the day that I become president will be the day that we turn this around, and begin rebuilding the armed forces of the United States,” he claimed.
He also pledged he would embed US Marines and soldiers with Iraqi forces rather than simply training them, but he stressed there is no need at this point for a “major commitment of American combat forces” on the ground.