Senators Shaheen, Murphy Host Meeting of Senators and Regional Ambassadors to Discuss the Crisis in Syria

Key Senators joined by diplomats from Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE to discuss refugee crisis and efforts to defeat ISIS

November 10, 2015

Washington, DC—This afternoon, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat on the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, and Senator Chris Murphy, the lead Democrat for the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, convened a meeting with key regional diplomats and leading Senators on foreign affairs and national security issues. The discussion was largely focused on the ongoing civil war in Syria, the refugee crisis that has resulted, and how best to address both.

“The United States needs a Syria policy that is closely coordinated with our allies in the Middle East and Europe,” said Shaheen. “This meeting was a candid discussion about what can be done cooperatively to improve conditions for the Syrian people inside and outside the country and what opportunities exist to advance a political solution through the Vienna talks led by Secretary Kerry that are reconvening this weekend. A key focus must be a comprehensive campaign to root out ISIS in Syria and Iraq, counter the dissemination of its hateful ideology, and cut-off its financial support.”

“As we work to confront the terrorist threat posed by ISIL and deal with the civil war in Syria that is producing unprecedented refugee flows, consulting with our regional partners is critical to the process of identifying our core interests, and determining the options we have to best advance those interests,” said Murphy. “No strategy will work in the Middle East unless it is led by local actors with total buy in from local actors. That's why it is important for us to get the perspective of our partners in the region as we decide upon a strategy moving forward to fight ISIL.”

In September, Senator Shaheen called a meeting on Capitol Hill that included Senators and European ambassadors to discuss the Syrian civil war and the surge of refugees fleeing into Europe to escape the violence. Last month, she also led a Senate delegation to Europe to receive a series of in-country briefings on the refugee crisis as well as several opportunities to meet with Syrian refugees to hear their first-hand experiences.

Senators in attendance:

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation

Senator Chris Murphy, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism

Senator Bob Corker, Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee

Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Committee

Senator Robert Menendez, Member, Foreign Relations Committee

Senator Tim Kaine, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development

Senator Ed Markey, Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy

Diplomats in Attendance:

Jordanian Ambassador Alia Hatoug Bouran

Qatari Ambassador Jaham Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari

Saudi Deputy Political and Congressional Affairs Counselor Musab al-Saud

Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kiliç

Emirati Chargé d’Affaires Omar al-Shamsi