Senator John McCain (R-AZ) slipped off quietly to go and meet with Syrian rebels, which we have reported prior to now are the forces of Al-Qaeda, who are supposed to be our enemy. Yeah, I’m feeling a little Orwellian right now. Ben Swann gives us a quick recap of just who the Syrian rebels are. They are foreign professional terrorists tied to Al-Qaeda.
Wanting to arm Syrian rebels is nothing new for McCain or other Republicans like Lindsey Graham for that matter. The Guardian reported last year that the Syrian rebels were members of Al-Qaeda and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney wanted to arm them, though he threw in a caveat about not arming terrorists.
In fact, some have even suggested that the Benghazi attacks were the result of attempts to arm these Syrian rebels, which some believe are not even Syrians, but rather foreigners. Dean Garrison pointed out that those who were guarding the diplomatic mission in Benghazi were Al-Qaeda operatives that were hired by the State Department.
However, Josh Rogin reports,
McCain, one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, made the unannounced visit across the Turkey-Syria border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. He stayed in the country for several hours before returning to Turkey. Both in Syria and Turkey, McCain and Idris met with assembled leaders of Free Syrian Army units that traveled from around the country to see the U.S. senator. Inside those meetings, rebel leaders called on the United States to step up its support to the Syrian armed opposition and provide them with heavy weapons, a no-fly zone, and airstrikes on the Syrian regime and the forces of Hezbollah, which is increasingly active in Syria.
Fighting across Syria has increased in recent weeks, with new regime offensives in several key areas, such as Damascus and the strategic border town of Qusayr. Thousands of soldiers serving Hezbollah—the Lebanon-based and Iran- and Syria-backed stateless army—have joined the fight in support of the regime, as the civil war there has threatened to ignite a region-wide conflagration and amid new reports of chemical weapons attacks by forces loyal to embattled president Bashar al-Assad this week that might cross President Obama’s “red line” for the conflict.
McCain’s visit came as the Obama administration is once again considering an increase of support to the Syrian opposition, while at the same time pushing the opposition council to negotiate with the regime at an international conference in Geneva in early June.
John J. Xenakis also confirms the buildup of Hezbollah in Syria, writing, “The army of the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, combined with fighters from the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, is focusing heavy firepower on the strategic city of Qusair near the border with Lebanon. The city is important because it’s on major roads that connect Damascus with Lebanon and with the Port of Tartous on the Mediterranean. The side gaining control of Qusair will gain a big advantage in the war. Rebels are largely surrounded in the city, suffering missile bombardments and air strikes, and may end up suffering a major defeat. BBC and Reuters.
Dan Roberts adds, “The Arizona senator has been leading efforts in Congress in recent weeks to force Barack Obama to intervene in Syria following reports of alleged chemical weapons use by forces loyal to Assad.”
“As the most senior US politician to have visited Syria, his intervention is likely to strengthen the hand of hawks in Washington at a time when parallel efforts are being made by the French and British governments to persuade the European Union to lift the arms embargo,” he said.
Gen. Salem Idris told the Daily Beast “The visit of Senator McCain to Syria is very important and very useful especially at this time. We need American help to have change on the ground; we are now in a very critical situation.”
“What we want from the U.S. government is to take the decision to support the Syrian revolution with weapons and ammunition, anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft weapons,” Idris said. “Of course we want a no-fly zone and we ask for strategic strikes against Hezbollah both inside Lebanon and inside Syria.”
Would this be like supporting the revolution in Libya that resulted with the overthrow of Muhammar Ghadaffi and the Al-Qaeda flag being flown over the capital? We also discovered that Barack Obama refused to send troops to guard the weapons depot there resulting in 20,000 missing shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles being taken out of bunkers and the assumption was that Al-Qaeda had obtained them. Five thousand had been found at the time.
Elizabeth O’Bagy, political director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force said, “This was the start of a really important engagement between various forces in the U.S. government and people in the civilian and armed opposition who are working together to fight for a free Syria.”
“Senator McCain proved today you can very easily go and meet with these people,” she said. “He’s the first U.S. senator to step foot in free Syria and one of the first government officials to reach out to the FSA officials and that’s a huge step.”
McCain told the Daily Beast that the Geneva conference would only allow for more time for Assad’s regime to strengthen its position against the rebels.
“I’ve been known to be an optimist, but here are the Russians sending them up-to-date missiles, continued flights of arms going into Syria, Putin keeps our secretary of State waiting for three hours … It doesn’t lend itself to optimism, all it does is delay us considering doing what we really need to do,” said McCain. “The reality is that Putin will only abandon Assad when he thinks that Assad is losing. Right now, at worst it’s a stalemate. In the view of some, he is succeeding.”
I don’t know about this one. We have a fight between Hezbollah joining with the Assad regime and we have Al-Qaeda. Is this a choice between the lesser of two evils or a choice between two evils? Some believe it will lead to a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias which will engulf the entire region. What say you?
Tim Brown is the Editor of Freedom Outpost and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.