A tentative White House plan to usher Syrian president Bashar al-Assad out of power with Russia's assistance is destined to fail, a top Republican lawmaker said Sunday.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pulled no punches regarding the plan during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, calling the administration’s Syria policy a “shameful episode in American history.”
The transition plan being floated by the Obama administration would have Washington and Moscow ease Assad out of office while allowing a number of his top officials to remain in government.
A similar plan was used to push out former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh in the wake of the Arab Spring movement. Saleh's vice president, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, took control of the government when Saleh stepped down earlier this year.
However, McCain said there were "no comparisons" between the power struggle in Yemen and Assad's brutal efforts to quash Syria's opposition forces and remain in control.
Assad's willingness to attack civilians in his attempt to cling to power is proof that a diplomatic solution would never be reached, McCain added.
However, the White House has already signed off on a plan ordering American officials to begin laying the groundwork for arming Syrian rebels.
Under that plan, first reported by the Associated Press, U.S. government officials will begin vetting certain elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to evaluate whether they meet the criteria to receive military support.
The vetting process will likely be run by the Pentagon, State Department and the U.S. intelligence community, with various Gulf states providing the actual weapons to the FSA and others.
Despite those efforts, McCain raised doubts over Russia's willingness to participate in any plan that would politically decapitate its primary ally in the Middle East.
Russia has continued to block efforts by the United Nation's Security Council to end the violence in Syria.
In March, Moscow reportedly sent warships and special forces units trained in counterinsurgency operations to its naval base in Syria to assist the Assad regime.
Russian defense firms continue gain financially supplying arms and weapons to Syrian military forces.
On Friday, the United Nations said Assad supporters backed by government forces slaughtered over 90 Syrian civilians and anti-government forces in the village of Haoula, marking the deadliest attack by the regime since the uprising began nine months ago.
The attack drew sharp rebuke from the United States and the rest of the international community. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attack and demanded "those who perpetrated this atrocity must be identified and held to account," in a statement released Saturday.
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney called the attack "horrific" and called upon the White House to begin taking action to provide military support to the Syrian rebels.
"It's really just a sad story," McCain said. "The [only] conclusion you can draw is that this president wants to kick the can down the road on all of these issues… telling [Russian president Vladimir Putin] I'll be more flexible after I'm reelected."