Poe delivers comments on Syria to Kingwood Tea Party
- Written by Susan McFarland
United States Congressman Ted Poe addressed the U.S. response to the Syrian Civil War in comments delivered to the local Tea Party on Sept. 5. The war began in 2011, after opposition forces attempted to oust President Bashar al-Assad and the Ba’ath government from power. The Syrian Army was deployed by al-Assad to quell the uprising, leading to the establishment of the opposition group FSA (Free Syrian Army). The Ba’ath government and al-Assad have been accused of human rights violations, the killing of thousands of civilians, and most recently of killing over a thousand civilians in Damascus with a chemical weapon, the nerve gas sarin. President Barack Obama, in a Sep 3, statement on Syria said, “This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm. In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted.” President Obama has suggested limited military action be taken with respect to Syria. Poe provided a response to President Obama’s comments and said, “The President has said that we need to do something, because this dictator, Assad, has used chemical weapons on people in Syria. [The President] has waited and waited and finally, has done the Constitutional thing and said ‘I want Congress to support this.’ On Sept. 5, President Obama indicated he will seek authorization from Congress for an attack on Syria. However, Poe indicated the House of Representatives is unlikely to support a strike on Syria, “Not since I have been in Congress, have I seen so many members of the House united over one issue like this. That is, America is not going to war. Republican leadership and Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives and the Senate want us to approve a resolution [giving the President the right to strike]. But today it would not happen. We would not give the President authority for even a limited strike.” Poe provided a summary of his perspective on the Syrian civil war, “You’ve got Assad, the dictator, and the ruling, legitimate government of Syria, supported by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, a terrorist group sponsored by Iran. On the other side, the world press would have you believe, you have a bunch of patriots and freedom fighters trying to overthrow the dictator. Well, maybe some of those rebels are freedom fighters or patriots. But that’s not all that’s trying to overthrow the government. First of all, you’ve got forces within the rebel community that are sponsored by other countries. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar are supporting different groups of the rebels. So you’ve got several world countries on each side, the rebels, FSA, mercenaries, and the Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is an Al-Qaeda terrorist group. You’ve got two terrorist groups, one on one side [Hezbollah] and one on the other side that is Al-Qaeda and is fighting with the rebels. Last I heard, we are at war with Al-Qaeda, and somebody wants the United States to get involved in that. The rebels are not all pure themselves.” Wendy Alexander, President of the Kingwood Area Republican Women organization echoed Poe’s comments and said “I do not believe that our goal as Americans is to be the world police. We should intervene only when it directly affects us, (insert Vietnam War here). Our armed forces are already stretched too thin. We do not need to add another combat area of operations in Syria. We should not engage in taking out a regime when we can’t guarantee the next one will be any better.” According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people, both armed forces, civilians, and government officials have been killed in the Syrian Civil War, 28,000 people have been reported missing and four million Syrians have been displaced from their homes. Syria is thought to possess the third largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world, after the U.S. and Russia. Syria’s weapons were developed for use against Israel. In April 2013, the U.S. approved an additional $123 million military aid package to the FSA, bringing the total reported U.S. support for opposition forces to $250 million since fighting began. Cutline: U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, left, takes questions following his presentation about Syria Sept. 5.