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Corker skeptical of U.S. Russian Syrian agreement

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — The ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after lambasting President Obama’s handling of the Syria situation, now says the proposed solution to the crisis remains “very much an open question.”

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, weighed in on the agreement brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday morning, questioning how enforceable the proposed plan is and whether it signals a diplomatic retreat for the United States.

While saying he remains “supportive of a strong diplomatic solution,” the Senate Foreign Relations Committee member expressed doubts that the Bashar al-Assad regime would — or even could — hold to the terms of the announced agreement.

The Kerry-Lavrov agreement does not rule out the use of force, but the pact doesn’t specify that force will be the remedy for noncompliance. If Syria fails to meet the terms of the accord, the United States and others would have to go to the United Nations Security Council — a venue where Russia holds and has proven unafraid to use its veto authority — to debate how to respond.

“Absent the threat of force, it’s unclear to me how Syrian compliance will be possible,” Corker said.

Corker, who has worked with the Obama administration throughout the Syria morass and co-wrote the revised authorization that passed through his committee, continued assailing the president’s leadership.

“The administration’s handling of this crisis has hurt U.S. credibility,” Corker said in a statement to CNN.

He told CNN’s Dana Bash on Thursday that Obama seemed uncomfortable speaking to the nation as a commander in chief and had utterly failed to make the case to the American people that action in Syria was necessary and essential to U.S. national interests.

Corker said he will continue to review the details but worries the agreement will impugn the administration’s credibility in addressing future threats, including countering “threats from Iran and other rogue nations.”

By Jason Seher

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