By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday and Tuesday, Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery issued statements about the President’s request that the United States Congress give him authorization to attack Syria. On Tuesday, Representative Roby wrote to constituents on Facebook that she was being called back to Congress to weigh the President’s request.
Rep. Roby said, “With August/September town hall meetings complete, I’m on my way to Washington where we are set to take up some major issues in the coming days and weeks. This afternoon, I’ll be taking part in classified briefings aimed to help paint a full picture of the Syria situation. As we weigh this grave decision, I believe seeing the intelligence and proposed plan will help me make the most informed judgment possible. It’s also important that I hear from you – your views, concerns, thoughts regarding our country’s actions moving forward.”
On Tuesday, after meeting with Vice President Joe Biden (D) and receiving military briefing, Rep. Roby said in a written statement, “I appreciate the White House and officials from the Obama Administration for reaching out to Members of Congress and appearing in committee to provide us the background we need to make an informed decision about authorizing the use of military force.”
Rep. Roby continued, “Despite my serious doubts about the wisdom of military action in Syria, I have been careful not to cast a final judgment on this decision before seeing all the facts and giving the Administration a chance to make its case. Between my classified briefings yesterday, my meeting with Vice President Biden at the White House this morning, and the discussion in the House Armed Services Committee today, I believe I have heard the case. What I’ve learned about the Administration’s plans has not quelled my doubts. I remain deeply concerned that the use of military force in Syria at this time could have serious negative consequences for our country.”
Rep. Roby said, “I understand that the situation remains fluid, to say the least, and that other options for dealing with Syria are evolving. I encourage President Obama and officials within the Administration to continue to proactively reach out to Members of Congress and articulate how those options develop.”
After evidence emerged that embattled Syrian dictator Bashar Assad likely has used chemical weapons against civilians in rebel controlled parts of Syria reportedly killing over 1000, it appeared that war was inevitable. President Barack Obama (D) who according to many reports has been supporting the rebels for months then said that, “A red line has been crossed.”
Not everyone however agreed. The British Parliament voted not to participate in an American attack on Syria and the United Nations Security Council also opposes intervention in the Syrian Civil War. It appeared that the U.S. would simply attack Syria without consulting Congress, but leaders from both parties urged the President to consult with Congress. Many legal scholars believe that such authorization is needed for the United States to go to war.
The President relented and has submitted his request to Congress, while still claiming that he has the authority to strike without Congressional approval.
The President’s request was approved by a committee in the U.S. Senate; but faces an uncertain future in the full Senate where Senators from both parties have expressed reservations about the plan.
Meanwhile on the ground in Syria over the weekend, one of the rebel factions seized the Christian village of Maaloula in heavy fighting and beheaded many of the villagers for their faith. The Islamic rebels told the villagers (home to one of the oldest surviving Christian monasteries in Syria) to convert to Islam or die.
Assad is backed by Iran and Hezbollah, while the largely Sunni rebels are being backed by al Quaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Senator Rand Paul (R) from Kentucky reported that some rebel factions have actually cut the hearts out of Syrian soldiers and ate them on television.
The House will consider the President’s proposal if/when it passes in the U.S. Senate.
On Tuesday, the President told the American people that if (or when) he attacks Syria, he will not put troops on the ground in Syria and will not pursue an open ended air campaign like he did in Libya or President Clinton did in Kosovo. Instead it is expected that the United States would simply fire ~100 cruise missiles at targets in Syria to weaken the Assad regime.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed a compromise where Assad allows international authorities to take possession of the chemical weapons if the U.S. and other countries agree not to intervene in the country’s civil war. On Tuesday, President Obama has asked leaders of both Houses of Congress to put their votes on hold while Secretary of State John Kerry (D) continues negotiations.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.