In a November 17 interview with Al-Jazeera TV, former CIA and NSA director General Michael Hayden said that he strongly urged the U.S. and allied governments "not to make common cause with Assad, because we do not share the same objectives or the same values." If the Assad regime does not go, he said, "it will be harder to depose him a year from now than it is today." In the interview, Hayden further said that the U.S. and its allies must double its efforts against ISIS.
Following are excerpts:
Gen Hayden: "We can do more. I believe that until now, the efforts by the Western allies have been insufficient and limited. We have not committed enough forces to make a difference in the battlefield. The forces there operate under many restrictions. I do not mean the restrictions of the rules of engagement or international law. They are restricted by American policies. Yes, I believe that we could do more, but we are going to see some sort of a dramatic change in our approach towards ISIS? No, this is not going to happen, but we need to increase our efforts. I think that's clear.
"We have seen many Arabs killed by ISIS. This happened in Lebanon just a few days before the attacks in Paris. I am sad that we have not done more. It is good that France stepped up its attacks against ISIS. You asked a good question. If we could carry out attacks on Sunday, then why couldn't we have done that earlier, on Thursday? Obviously, from a military point of view, we had the ability to do that. I think we have learnt a lesson from what happened, not only from the Paris attacks, but also from what happened in Beirut, and from what happened to the Russian plane. We realized that we must redouble the efforts on our part, as well as on our Arab friends' part.
"This problem is more complicated now than it was one, two, or three years ago. If the Assad regime does not go, it will be harder to depose him a year from now than it is today. I strongly urge the US government and the allied governments not to make common cause with Assad, because we do not share the same objectives or the same values."