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Sen. Cruz Opposes Arming Syrian Rebels, Calls for Securing Syrian Chemical Weapons

Voices Concerns in Senate Floor Address

June 20, 2013

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press@cruz.senate.gov / (202) 228-7561

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) today spoke on the Senate floor to voice his concern about U.S. plans to supply arms to Syrian rebel groups. The senator criticized the Obama Administration’s failure to engage at the beginning of the uprising when peaceful protestors could have used the vocal, energetic support of the United States. The U.S. has since lost its opportunity to have meaningful influence over the situation in a manner that would serve our nation’s best interests.

Although the situation in Syria is very serious – 93,000 are dead, millions have been displaced and Assad has used chemical weapons on his own people –the most effective, organized rebels are loyal to al Qaida. The U.S. should not provide arms to groups that are loyal to our enemies. Our enemy’s enemy is not necessarily our friend.

“The President would be better off focusing clearly on the one thing that is in our national security interests: securing Syria’s large stockpile of chemical weapons,” Sen. Cruz said. “We know Assad has used these weapons, and there is good reason to suspect the al Qaida-affiliated rebels would use them as well if they could get their hands on them. This poses an intolerable threat not only to our friends in the region, but also to the United States. We need to be developing a clear, practical plan to go in, locate the weapons, secure or destroy them, and then get out. The United States should be firmly in the lead to make sure the job is done right.”

According to a recent Pew poll taken over the weekend 70 percent of Americans oppose arming the rebels.

Yesterday in the President’s long speech on national security at the Brandenburg Gate he did not mention his planned intervention in Syria. He told us that he is a “citizen of the world,” but he is also President of the United States, and he owes the American people an explanation. President Obama needs to explain:

  • Why aiding the Syrian rebels is now worth our intervention when it wasn’t two years ago.
  • How he has established which rebels are the appropriate recipients of this support and how this very limited support will make a material difference in Syria.
  • How his team is proactively planning to keep Syria’s chemical weapons out of the hands of either Hezbollah or al Qaida.

The senator added, “With this track record of incoherent and indecisive action resulting in setback after setback to the United States, we are supposed to just trust President Obama to do a better job managing the situation in Syria?”

The senator concluded with two simple observations: “Number one, don't arm al Qaida. Don't arm those who hate us. Don't arm those who want to kill us. Number two, when it comes to matters of vital national security, the President of the United States needs to come to the American people. It is not acceptable for the president to simply send out staffers to pass on his decisions. He needs to come before Congress and the American people and explain those decisions.”

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