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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs