Marco Rubio endorses arming al-Qaeda in Syria
News broke last week that the Obama Administration decided further its involvement in the Syrian civil war by arming rebels fighting against Bashar Assad’s regime. The development was well-received by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), two of Washington’s most hawkish politicians. But increasing our intervention in Syria remains a hot topic among conservatives, especially among two who may seek the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2016.
This past weekend at the Faith Freedom Coalition’s conference in Washington, DC, two very distinict foreign policy agendas were put before conservatives. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) took a skeptical approach to Syria, explaining that intervention there doesn’t serve America’s interests. And it would seem that Americans overwhelmingly agree with that sentiment.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) endorsed the idea of an active approach to foreign policy, though he didn’t mention Syria specifically. However, he didn’t skip around the issue during an appearance on This Week (emphasis mine):
During an exclusive interview on “This Week,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio criticized President Obama for not intervening sooner in Syria’s civil war, saying the inaction has led to the “worst possible scenario” in the war-torn country.
“It behooved us to kind of identify whether there was elements there within Syria fighting against Assad that we could work with, reasonable people that wouldn’t carry out human rights violations, and could be part of building a new Syria. We failed to do that. This president failed to do that,” Rubio told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.
“The fact that it’s taken this White House and this president so long to get a clear and concise policy on Syria has left us with the worst possible scenario right now,” Rubio added.
“So now your options are quite limited. Now the strongest groups fighting against Assad, unfortunately, are al Qaeda-linked elements. That doesn’t mean that they all are, but it certainly — this group has become the most organized, the best armed, the best equipped. Our options are now really narrower than they were a few months ago,” he said.
As noted, furthering our involvement is a terrible idea. America has no interest in Syria and our involvement will do little more than help install a new government with ties to Islamic radicals who will be openly hostile to the United States. One need only look to Libya and the assault on the American outpost in Benghazi for a recent example of that.
Additionally, American taxpayers shouldn’t be funding a group that is identified as a terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaeda. CNN reported yesterday that the situation may be more dire than Rubio and other realize (emphasis mine, once again)
Al Qaeda’s affiliate inside Syria is now the best-equipped arm of the terror group in existence today, according to informal assessments by U.S. and Middle East intelligence agencies, a private sector analyst directly familiar with the information told CNN.
Concern about the Syrian al Qaeda-affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front, is at an all-time high, according to the analyst, with as many as 10,000 fighters and supporters inside Syria. The United States has designated al-Nusra Front as a terrorist group with links to al Qaeda in Iraq.
That assessment is shared by some Middle Eastern intelligence agencies that have long believed the United States is underestimating the Sunni-backed al Qaeda movement in the country, according to a Middle East source.
The situation is Syria is concerning, but it’s not worth getting ourselves involved in the affairs of another country when there is no real or immediate threat to the United States, nor is it worth arming a terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaeda.