Sen. McCain Speaks to Alhurra About Syria

Senator John McCain speaks with Alhurra
Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks with Alhurra

When Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wanted to convey to the Syrian people his views about the use of chemical weapons this week, he reached out to Alhurra Television’s Congressional Correspondent Rana Abtar to request to be interviewed.

Speaking Thursday from the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building, McCain stated, “All the things that people said would happen if we intervened in Syria have happened because we didn’t intervene. Every day that goes by it increases the difficulty of stabilizing Syria and it is to our everlasting shame that we did not lead.”

Recent audience research indicates that Alhurra has a weekly reach of 25.6 percent of potential TV viewers in Syria.

A former presidential nominee and long-standing member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain this year joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  He had been urging more active U.S. engagement in Syria for months.

McCain went on to tell Alhurra that the ongoing war is Syria is “one of the more shameful chapters in American history.” He remarked that the United States should not base its involvement on whether or not Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons, and added that the U.S. should have intervened a long time ago.

In letters to Congress that day, the White House said U.S. intelligence agencies believe “with varying degrees of confidence” that chemical weapons had been used in Syria.  U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel referred to “small-scale” uses of the nerve agent Sarin.

McCain received one of the letters, which he indicated “basically said, yes there is a belief on the part of the majority of the agencies, but then quickly said we need to have more evidence. So they were not committing to take any action. I can assure you the Iranians, Hezbollah, North Koreans and other jihadists will be watching whether the President of the United States decides to act or not.”

McCain was emphatic that he does not want American troops to go into Syria, but instead wants to create a safe zone – as he put it,“ a secure area in Syria where the Syrian National Committee can operate, where they can train, organize and equip and make sure the weapons go to the right people, not the wrong people.”

When asked about the future of Syria, McCain warned, “Our intelligence community has clearly stated, unless there is some game-changing action, such as establishing the safe zone, training and equipping the rebels and other actions, we will have a stalemate for three to six months. The refugees are about to overwhelm Jordan. Lebanon is being destabilized.  It’s in America’s national security interest to bring Bashar’s departure…as quickly as possible.”

Alhurra Television has a weekly reach of 25.6 percent in Syria.