Why Congress Is Divided on Syria
Extremist rebels, regime atrocities leave lawmakers no easy options
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Sep 5, 2013 7:33 AM CDT
Updated Sep 5, 2013 7:56 AM CDT
Jordanian security police stand in front of protesters waving the Syrian national flag and an anti-American poster during a protest near the U.S. embassy, Amman, Jordan, Aug. 31, 2013.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

(Newser) – Congress is decidedly skittish about the prospect of military action against Syria—sources tell Politico's Playbook that if the vote were held today, it would fail—and the reason why has a lot to do with the thought of potentially bolstering men like Abdul Samad Issa, aka "The Uncle." Issa leads a small faction of about 300 rebels, and while it's not al-Qaeda-affiliated, it's uncomfortably ruthless—one former aide gave the New York Times a video of the group executing seven naked and beaten Syrian soldiers, who had been accused of raping civilians. The Uncle has promised his men "the extermination" of the entire Alawite sect Bashar al-Assad belongs to.

  • The would-be non-war is also unpopular. "The word from members is that no one back home supports intervention. Calls and letters are opposed in overwhelming numbers," one source tells Playbook.
  • On the other hand, there's the horror of Syria's chemical attack. A new study indicates that the rockets used in the alleged Damascus strike carried up to 50 times more nerve gas than previously estimated, the Times reports. That indicates that the material must have come from a large gas stockpile.
  • Syria's neighbors fear something even worse: that Assad could revive the country's bioweapons program. The US believes Syria mothballed the program in the 1980s, but it likely possesses everything it needs to make a weapon, including deadly bacteria and viruses, the Washington Post reports.
  • There are also political considerations. Republicans aren't eager to back President Obama on anything, which means that Nancy Pelosi may be more key to passing the bill than anyone, the Times argues. But even she might not be able to rally support from anti-war Democrats.
  • Robert Gates yesterday broke his silence on Syria to throw his weight behind his old boss, with a statement "strongly" urging Congress to approve intervention.
  • Obama, meanwhile, plans to "explain our current thinking" to allies at today's G-20 Summit in Russia, Politico reports. Administration officials say he's considering an Oval Office address toward the same end. But House members tell Playbook that so far that thinking, as communicated in private briefings, has been "surprisingly unconvincing."

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boxcar
Sep 9, 2013 12:42 AM CDT
Sarah Palin take on Syria says it best- "This conflict is pitting Islamic extremists against an authoritarian regime with both sides shouting “Allahu Akbar” at each other, so then let Allah sort it out. - Sarah Palin Only reason US might retaliate against WMD's is our own WMD's are nearing end of their shelf life where its cheaper and easier to dispose of them by simply lobbing them into another country where God can sort 'em out (and it means more defense contracts to replace expended munitions)- Wow
People_Suck
Sep 8, 2013 1:13 PM CDT
Who cares? Let them kill each other.
K.KRANK
Sep 6, 2013 6:15 PM CDT
As bad/do-nothing as this Congress has been, would anyone want to trade places w/them right now over a Syria military strike vote? The options over there (Syria) for whoever we decide is the best group to back are just awful & then there's the mid-term elections here next year. Sounds like the worst place to be, stuck in the middle of that mess, caught between the proverbial rock & a hard spot :(