Paul: Intervention in Syria would be 'on the side of al Qaeda'

One of the most vocal opponents of U.S. military involvement abroad is warning that the United States would be aiding terrorists if President Obama launched a mission into Syria.

“The most difficult obstacle they have to overcome is that if we go in on the side of the rebels, we'll be going in on the side of al Qaeda, and most of us think we’ve been fighting al Qaeda for 10 or 12 years now,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on "Fox News Sunday."

He added that the measure before Congress to authorize the president’s use of force “isn’t a good resolution if we go in being an ally to al Qaeda.”


The statement is in line with concerns among some lawmakers about the makeup of anti-government rebels in Syria.

Among the differing rebel factions are some that have aligned with al Qaeda, including the Jabhat al-Nusra group.

Obama has expressed a desire to use American military force after the apparent use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of the country’s capital, Damascus.

But Paul said in the interview that American military action would only further destabilize the country and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s control of the weapons.

“I think it’s more likely that the chemical weapons could become freed or go about between the rebels and into al Qaeda’s hands if we destabilize Assad,” he said.

Obama's proposal has faced steep opposition in Congress.

Paul said on Sunday that he believed the resolution could pass the Senate on support from Democrats.

“They may overcome it in the Senate if it becomes a partisan vote,” he said.

However, in the Republican-controlled House, Paul said he had “doubts” about the measure’s future.

Obama has not been clear about his path forward if Congress fails to pass the resolution. Some have questioned whether he would approve a military strike anyway.

Paul said he would try to set limits on the president’s ability to act without congressional approval.

“I will insist on at least one vote where we say this is not a show; this is not political theater; this is a binding vote,” he said.