Senate Judiciary Chairman Questions Obama's Cuba Policy Amid Syria Reports

Friday, October 16, 2015
Click here to read Chairman Grassley's letter.

From The Hill:

Senator to Obama: Why is Cuba helping Russia in Syria?

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wants to know whether President Obama has confronted the Cuban government over its reported aid for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In light of Obama's decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba, Grassley said it is "disconcerting" that the Castro government appears to be siding with Russia in the the Syrian civil war.

"Press reports now indicate that hundreds of Cuban military personnel are on the grounds in Syria, with the purpose of supporting Russia and Iran in bolstering the Assad regime," the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman wrote in a letter to Obama Friday.

"It’s disconcerting that in light of your new relationship with Cuba, the Castro regime has chosen to align with Russia and Iran in supporting Assad in Syria."

Grassley's letter comes after Fox News reported that Cuban military personnel are helping advise Syrian soldiers and training with Russians inside of Syria.

The Iowa Republican asked Obama to detail any conversations the administration has had with Cuban officials over the reported military action, as well as any steps it will take in response.

"Just months after your ‘historic step forward’ the regime of Raúl Castro has essentially thumbed its nose at the U.S. by aligning with Russia, Iran and Assad," Grassley added, asking if the president is "disappointed."

Grassley, like most Republicans, has been critical of Obama's decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba. Republicans say the administration should not look past the history of human rights abuses in Cuba, and argue that easing restrictions on the country only rewards bad behavior.

The administration has repeatedly criticized Russia's military buildup in Syria, with Obama dismissing Russian President Vladimir Putin's strategy as "doomed to fail."

Republicans, and a growing number of Democrats, have suggested that the administration should take a tougher stance against Moscow, accusing Putin of targeting U.S.-backed Syrian rebels with airstrikes.