Should Assad Go? Congress is Divided
Republicans cannot decide on whether Bashar al-Assad should go, says Josh Rogin. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Casey’s (D-PA) resolution condemning the violence in Syria revealed divisions in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) objected to provisions of the resolution that called on the President to provide “support” saying that “non-lethal” should be emphasized. Corker also attempted to specific that no money would be given to the opposition. All nine Democrats and three of the nine republicans voted down this proposal. Corker also opposed the provision necessitating the ouster of Assad. Richard Lugar (R-IN) also opposed this provision. Lugar pointed out that thousands have been killed in other places, like Russia and China, but the president has not called for their leaders to go. Sen. Richard Durbin warned against taking a weaker stance than the administration, saying that it may send the world the message that the U.S. was backing down. The committee finally voted in favor (13-6) for the resolution.
Geoffrey Aronson writes that U.S. should rethink its policy towards Syria. By demonizing Assad’s regime, Aronson says that the U.S. has “walked away from the table” and dissolved all hope of “mounting a insider’s coup.” Lack of White House initiative has left the U.S. not just leading from behind, but being dragged in from behind by the Gulf States and oppposition groups. Luke warm support for the Annan proposal comes as a result of the Obama Administration’s refusal to deal with the heinous regime. He calls on the administration to garner more support for Annan’s proposal because a solution through the regime “is the best attainable outcome.” Charles Krauthammer writes that Obama stands idle as Syria burns.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials have shifted their position and have become outspoken in their belief that Assad should relinquish power. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the crackdown has robbed Assad of any legitimacy. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Assad’s ouster would be “very positive for Israel in that it would “weaken dramatically” Iran. Druze lawmaker and Likud Member Ayoub Kara said that talks with Syrian opposition members reveal that they will “strive for peace with Israel.”