Republicans back arming Syria rebels

2012-02-23 08:59

Mesa - US Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich on Wednesday lent their support to the idea of arming the Syrian opposition in its fight to topple President Bashar Assad.

Speaking at a CNN debate in Mesa, Arizona, Romney said the United States needed to team up with allies to help the rebels.

"We need to work with Saudi Arabia and with Turkey to say, 'You guys provide the kind of weaponry that's needed to help the rebels inside Syria'," the former Massachusetts governor said.

The Republican seen most likely to face President Barack Obama in November's presidential election, Romney said such support was needed to turn Syria away from Iran at a critical time when Tehran was possibly trying to develop nuclear weapons.

"If we can turn Syria and Lebanon away from Iran, we finally have the capacity to get Iran to pull back," Romney said. He added that the United States should make it clear that military action would be taken if Iran pursued nuclear weapons.

There were signs earlier this week that the Obama administration may be opening the door to eventually arming the Syrian opposition if a political solution to the conflict proves impossible.

Weapons available

But a White House spokesperson cautioned that such action could further contribute to the militarisation of Syria and lead it down a dangerous path, although the administration did not rule out additional measures.

US opponents of arming the rebels worry that the anti-Assad forces are too divided and say it is not clear who is in charge.

Speaking at the debate, Gingrich said that US allies - which he did not name - were covertly helping destroy the Assad regime, and that there were weapons available in the region to arm the opposition.

"There are plenty of Arab-speaking groups that would be quite happy. There are lots of weapons available in the Middle East," he said, taking a swipe at the Obama administration's policy on Syria.

"This is an administration which, as long as you're America's enemy, you're safe. You know, the only people you've got to worry about is if you're an American ally."

Syrian government forces on Wednesday killed more than 80 people in assaults on villages and an artillery barrage on the restive city of Homs, including two Western journalists.

The United States and its allies hope that a conference in Tunis this week will allow them to begin drawing up a plan for Syria after Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed Arab League peace plan at the UN Security Council.

  • Godfrey - 2012-02-23 09:44

    Amazing how the uber-religious nutballs love wars and killing?

      Fred - 2012-02-23 14:23

      MUst disagree with you on this Godfrey. Do you have any idea what the people, the women and children are going through in Homs, without help.

      Bradley - 2012-02-24 11:29

      It seems patprick becomes a retard every time he types some thing out.

  • Anthony - 2012-02-23 10:15

    Not a good idea, Rather send in some marines to take out this assad family. Most of the killing will than stop within days. And if Russia and China, have a problem with this; Than to hell with them !!!!!

      Fred - 2012-02-23 14:24

      I'd be "happy" with that, as happy as someone can be when death of another human being is involved. Assad must be stopped. He is killing almost a hundred people per day, maiming and detaining many more.

      Anthony - 2012-02-24 00:25

      Patrick, Maybe you should ask this question to the population of these two countries. THEY will give you the answer !!!!

  • Bradley - 2012-02-23 11:58

    I say arm them!! if i were being oppressed by bullies of the gov. and the killing of family and friends...hell give me a tank and i will make sure i cause damage to the dogs! Oorah!!! and those saying no or don't, you don't know what the people of Syria are going through. they need help and they need it now.

      Godfrey - 2012-02-23 12:56

      "hell give me a tank". Pathetic. It is so easy to be big and brave on the internet, hey?

      Bradley - 2012-02-23 14:04

      Godfrey, i have no idea how to drive a tank you schmuck, i was trying to get the idea across to people how the people of Syria should stand up to their Gov. P.S you are pathetic, I'm sure of myself to be brave on the internet or to your face..

      Godfrey - 2012-02-23 14:11

      @Bradley - not a bad sidestep. That was not what you hoped to convey in the first place.

      Fred - 2012-02-23 14:26

      Couldn't agree with you more, Bradley. It's shocking, shameful, heartless what Assad and his cronies are doing. I can hardly express how I feel so awful is it.

      Bradley - 2012-02-23 15:09

      @Godfrey, put yourself in the shoes of the citizens of Syria(that's if they haven't been blown out of them yet) you are being pushed into a corner with no way to fight back, would you not wish for something to defend yourself with? at least be given the opportunity to defend yourself and family...

      Bradley - 2012-02-23 15:10

      Inb4 "they are asking for it...they are asking for freedom..

      Jaba - 2012-02-23 15:35

      im with bradley 100%!

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