Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) hailed efforts to arm opposition forces seeking to topple Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, but said President Obama’s decision to aid the rebels may have come too late.
“Timing matters and these were options that were there for us a year-and-a-half ago,” said Rubio on ABC’s “This Week.”
Rubio said Obama had “failed” to identify pro-Western elements in the Syrian opposition sooner, leading to a situation where Islamic militants had gained the upper hand in the civil war.
“Our options now are really narrower than they were,” Rubio added.
Last week the Obama administration said Assad’s regime had crossed a red line with the use of chemical weapons and the White House announced plans to supply weapons to rebels.
Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) are calling for more, including a no-fly zone over the country.
Rubio said if he had been calling the shots, the situation in Syria would not have been as dire and he would have acted more quickly.
“We never would have gotten to this point. We would have identified elements that we could have worked with, and we would have made sure that those elements, not the al Qaeda elements, were the best armed, best equipped and best trained,” said Rubio.
The Florida senator also addressed the election of moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani as the new president of Iran.
“I'm not all that optimistic. At the end of the day, in order to have better relations, not just with the United States but with the world, Iran knows exactly what it needs to do. It needs to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, and it needs to pledge to walk away from these things,” said Rubio. “Unfortunately, this gentleman who was just elected is a strong supporter of the nuclear program and the nuclear weaponization as well.”