News

US Lawmakers Urge Arming Syrian Government Opposition

Senator John McCain listens during a news conference to discuss a Congressional resolution condemning the government of Syria for crimes against humanity and supporting the right of the people of Syria to be safe and to defend themselves, on Capitol Hill
Senator John McCain listens during a news conference to discuss a Congressional resolution condemning the government of Syria for crimes against humanity and supporting the right of the people of Syria to be safe and to defend themselves, on Capitol Hill
Michael Bowman

U.S. lawmakers are urging a more active U.S. role to topple Syria’s dictatorship, including arming opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

Republican Senator John McCain said the United States must not remain on the sidelines while thousands of Syrian civilians are killed.

“How many [Syrians] have to die before the United States will take a leadership role in trying to end the mass slaughter that is taking place in Syria?”

McCain and five other senators introduced a congressional resolution decrying bloodshed in Syria and urging the United States to help create safe havens for civilians and to arm opponents of the Assad government. Joining McCain was independent Senator Joe Lieberman, who derided suggestions that President Assad’s downfall is inevitable.

“Everyone was saying, ‘Well, Assad is going to go. It is just a matter of time.’ Well, we are all going to go, one day. Right now I would say, based on the disproportionate availability of weapons and the willingness of the Assad regime to use them against the Syrian people, Assad will go of natural causes before he is eliminated from office,” said Lieberman.

The senators spoke following reports of new assaults by Syrian troops against rebel strongholds, and one day after Syria accepted an international peace plan that includes a ceasefire, and dialogue between the government and rebel forces. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham noted the plan does not specify Assad’s departure from power.

“This whole idea of trying to engage the Assad regime with a ceasefire agreement that allows him to stay should be offensive to every Syrian who has been raped, murdered, slaughtered, and family members who have been abused. And it should be offensive to the free world as a whole. There is nothing to negotiate, but [except] this guy leaving,” said Graham.

Senators stressed the resolution does not call for the deployment of U.S. troops in Syria, nor does it authorize the use of military force. While urging the Obama administration to work with other governments to boost the ability of members of the Syrian opposition to defend themselves, the resolution does not specify how the goal should be met. This is by design, said Republican Senator Jon Kyl.

“The president [Barack Obama] has a certain amount of leeway and authority here, and we respect that. But we hope that by urging him to take these actions and by putting the Senate on the record to back him up, he will have the support he thinks he needs to do this.”

McCain noted that supplying arms to fighters in faraway lands is something the United States has done successfully in the past.

“We somehow managed to get weapons to the Afghan resistance in the Afghan war against Russia [in the 1980s]. We somehow were able to get weapons to the Libyans [last year]. I am sure there are ways that weapons can be gotten to the Syrian resistance,” said McCain.

If passed by Congress, the resolution would not force the Obama administration to take any specific steps. Rather, it would express the will of the legislature and affirm congressional backing for any future actions. Administration officials have said Assad’s days are numbered, and he must leave power, but his downfall may not be imminent and that events in a post-Assad Syria are difficult to predict.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs