In September of last year, Congress said no to plans to bomb Syria by not approving a permission to use military force.
Now, there is a new push for the U.S. military to get more involved in Syria. This is shown by this op-ed by former Ambassador Robert Ford in the New York Times. People who want the U.S. to get involved militarily are telling us that the U.S. will not bomb Syria directly. Instead, the bombing will be done by so-called “moderate rebels” in Syria, whoever they are, using weapons supplied by the U.S.
Trump did everything he could to keep secret documents for himself, including lying to the FBI.
Ford says that rebels in Syria should be given surface-to-air missiles, and he likes the idea that these missiles could be used against Iran.
Now, Mr. Assad’s survival depends on Iran and Hezbollah, and Iran’s power in Syria is likely to stay as long as Mr. Assad does.
To do this, the Free Syrian Army needs more weapons, such as mortars and rockets to hit airfields and make it hard for the regime to fly in supplies, and surface-to-air missiles, as long as they can be used safely. If the armed opposition got these new tools, it would shake the confidence of the Assad military.
Even Iran would have to think about how safe its flights are. This would make Iran more careful, and it might even get Iran to join us in pushing for serious talks.
Even Iran would have to think about how safe its supply flights are. This is a roundabout way of saying, “I want Syrian rebels to use weapons supplied by the U.S. to shoot down Iranian planes.”
Most people agree that giving surface-to-air missiles to Syrian rebels would be a very dangerous thing to do, since these weapons could be used by rebels or their allies to shoot down civilian planes outside of Syria. People who think the U.S. should give these weapons to Syrian rebels have been trying to reassure us that the U.S. would keep a close eye on them [“subject to reasonable safeguards,” says Ambassador Ford].
If the weapons were under U.S. control and they were used to shoot down Iranian planes, it would be clear that the United States government was behind the action. For Iran to think that these weapons could be used to shoot down its planes, the U.S. government would have to let Syrian rebels use them to shoot down Iranian planes.
If U.S.-backed insurgents use U.S. weapons to shoot down Iranian planes with U.S. permission, the Iranian government would have a good reason to see this as an act of war by the U.S. against Iran. How might the Iranian government react if the US did something like this? Shouldn’t we at least think about that before we start down this path?
You might think it’s a good idea for Syrian rebels to use U.S. weapons and get U.S. permission to shoot down Iranian planes. I don’t like the idea at all. But whether we think this is a good idea or a bad one, can we all agree that before making such a big decision, Members of Congress should say whether they are for or against it?
Representative Peter Welch from Vermont recently led a group of 19 Representatives from both parties in asking President Obama not to give manpads to Syrian insurgents, despite pressure to do so. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, recently tried to change the National Defense Authorization Act so that manpads couldn’t be given to Syrian rebels. However, the Republican leadership of the House wouldn’t let Conyers’ change come to a vote.
Congress made it clear that the Administration had to go to Congress before bombing Syria. Now, members of Congress need to speak up and demand a vote in Congress before manpads are sent to Syrian rebels.