WASHINGTON – In response to a report that the Obama administration’s proposal to secretly arm the Syrian opposition is facing skepticism from the few members of Congress who have been briefed on the plan, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, today said the administration’s approach “is unacceptable” and has only wasted time to help boost moderate forces in Syria “at the expense of our national interests.” Since administration officials acknowledged the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria and an apparent decision by the president to authorize further military support to the opposition, only members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees have been fully briefed on the details of an alleged plan to provide arms, which has been the subject of media reports.
“After months of division about what to do in Syria, the administration’s secret plan to arm the opposition has only led to further delay, as chaos and destruction in the region worsen. It is unacceptable to hide such a fundamental foreign policy matter from the vast majority of Congress and the American people. This approach is not appropriate, and it just wastes time at the expense of our national interests,” said Corker. “The administration should put forth a viable plan for Syria and make the case to Congress and the American people before it's too late.”
Corker is the coauthor of the Syria Transition Support Act that passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee on May 21 in a 15-3 vote. The legislation would authorize arms and training for vetted opposition groups in Syria as part of an overall strategy to strengthen moderate forces who could lead Syria after Assad.