Middle East/North Africa

Royce expresses deep reservations on Syria strike at hearing

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs panel said Wednesday he has deep concerns about military strikes against Syria.

{mosads}Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) opened his committee’s hearing with top administration officials by listing an array of concerns he said are shared by many members of his committee. President Obama’s bid to get congressional support to punish the Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons faces an uphill struggle in the Republican-controlled House.

“The administration’s Syria policy doesn’t build confidence,” Royce said in his opening statement. 

“There are concerns. The president promises a military operation in Syria of limited scope and duration. But the Assad regime would have a say in what happens next. That’d be particularly true as President Obama isn’t aiming to change the situation on the ground. What are the chances of escalation?”

Royce went on to bemoan the lack of international support for the president’s decision.

The chairman has long been skeptical of intervention in Syria’s two-and-a-half-year civil war. He has never brought up legislation to arm vetted rebel groups, which passed on a 15-3 vote in the equivalent Senate panel earlier this year.

Royce’s comments were in stark contrast with those of ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who authored the bill to arm rebels.

“I strongly agree with President Obama that the United States must respond to this flagrant violation of international law with a limited military strike to deter the further use of chemical weapons and degrade the Assad regime’s ability use them again,” Engel said. “But the issue we confront today is much bigger than the use of chemical weapons in Syria. We are talking about the credibility of America as a global power.”

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