Secretary of State John Kerry said during a hearing Wednesday in the House of Representatives that counties in the Arab world have offered to foot the entire bill for a U.S. military mission that destroys the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.
‘With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assist, the answer is profoundly yes,’ Kerry said. ‘They have. That offer is on the table.’
Kerry, with a cadre of anti-war activists sitting behind him and holding red-painted hands aloft in protest, declined to name the countries that have proposed opening their purses.
Kerry isn’t saying which Arab world leader or leaders offered to pay for a U.S.-led invasion of Syria, but candidates include Sheikh Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain (L), Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan of Turkey (C). Those withe the most money to spend include King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Emir Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait.
Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had asked Kerry to comment on the expenses related to carrying out attacks on Syria if Congress were to authorize them.
Following through on a use-of-force resolution, she said, ‘could potentially cost … billions.’
But Kerry said other nations that see Assad as a destabilizing force in the region have proposed to cover the costs.
As for ‘the details of the offer, and the proposal on the table,’ Ros-Lehtinen asked Kerry, ‘what are the figures we are talking about?
‘We donâ€™t know what action we [will be] engaged in right now,’ Kerry replied, ‘but they have been quite significant. I mean, very significant.’
‘In fact, some of them have said that if the U.S. is prepared to go do the whole thing, the way weâ€™ve done it previously in other places, theyâ€™ll carry that cost. Thatâ€™s how dedicated they are to this.’
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was a dogged questioner, demanding to know how much a military action in Syria would cost. It was her line of questioning that led Kerry to disclose that other nations had offered to cover the bills
Kerry quickly clarified that the Pentagon was not planning to shake a tin cup in the Middle East in the hope of collecting donations.
‘Obviously, that is not in the cards and nobody is talking about it,’ he said. ‘But they are talking about taking seriously getting this job done.’
Kerry also closed the loop on an embarrassing episode from his Senate testimony on Tuesday, when he said he wouldn’t rule out the use of ground troops if hostilities in Syria were to escalate.
‘There will be no boots on the ground,’ he said Wednesday.
‘The president has said that again and again. And there is nothing in this authorization that should contemplate it. And, we reiterate, no boots on the ground.’
MailOnline asked three different defense and national security analysts to estimate the cost of a 90-day military action in Syria, to include â€“ at minimum â€“ small arms for anti-Assad resistance groups, missiles and armed drones launched from the Mediterranean Sea, and military flights over Syria, launched from Turkey, after weapons stockpiles and anti-aircraft positions are destroyed.
While cautioning that their estimates must not be attributed to them by name, and with a caveat expressed by one analyst that ‘this is all educated guesswork,’ the estimates ranged from $5 to $21 billion.
‘You’d think rocket and jet fuel would be cheaper in that part of the world,’ said one, ‘but no such luck. This won’t be a cheap mission.’