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ICYMI: Rubio: Syria Policy Risks Trading a Tyrant for Extremists

Oct 16, 2012 | Press Releases

Syria Policy Risks Trading a Tyrant for Extremists
By Senator Marco Rubio
October 16, 2012

For almost two years, the Syrian people have tried to free themselves of Bashar al-Assad’s cruel iron fist. They have looked repeatedly to America for help. But the Obama administration has failed to robustly support the Syrian rebel movement. Instead, the administration hid behind an unsuccessful United Nations peace process.

As the conflict in Syria continued, enabling al-Assad and his forces to murder thousands of civilians, Iran and Hezbollah made matters worse by sending soldiers and weapons into Syria to prop up al-Assad. And now, jihadists are entering the country each day.

As I warned in June, the presence of jihadists will only make an eventual resolution in Syria that much harder. Coupled with the possibility of Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile falling into the hands of extremists once al-Assad falls, Syria’s instability is a major threat to America’s interests in the region and globally.

The Obama administration’s words — that al-Assad must go and that America supports the ambitions of Syria’s opposition movement — have been the right ones. But the administration’s lack of actions has disappointed the Syrian people and engendered their resentment, especially after their hopes were raised that America stood with them in their fight for a better future.

Empty rhetoric will only weaken America’s credibility. It is a recipe for alienating potential allies, prolonging the Syrian conflict and imperiling America’s national security.

Sensing our weakness, disinterest and failure to match our words with deeds, some countries, including our enemies, are emboldened. This is why Iran is more deeply than ever involved in arming and providing financial support to al-Assad, why Russia makes a mockery of Obama’s “reset” by supplying currency for al-Assad and why Russia and China predictably continue to stifle U.S., Arab and European efforts at the United Nations.

Likewise, America’s leadership void has pushed an increasing number of desperate Syrian rebels to turn to extremism. We have seen radicals seize opportunities like this before in other conflict-ridden places, and we know it never ends well.

The Syria situation is not the only sign of weakness in President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

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