Tags: corker | syria | rebels

Sen. Corker: 'Dismayed' Over Meager US Support for Syria Rebels

Image: Sen. Corker: 'Dismayed' Over Meager US Support for Syria Rebels

Sunday, 15 Sep 2013 02:16 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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An agreement may have been reached on Syria, but Sen. Bob Corker said he is "dismayed" at the United States' lack of support for opposition forces in Syria.

"We certainly have not done what we need to do," he said. "It has hurt our credibility, certainly on the ground."

A way to counter not taking military strikes is to more strongly equip and train the opposition, said Corker.

"We have been remiss," said Corker. "We've announced that we're doing something, but what we've done certainly has not been at the pace it should be."

The Tennessee senator, who is the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, who heads the Armed Services Committee on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday to discuss the ongoing Syrian issues.

"I think all of us have wanted a diplomatic solution," said Corker. "On the other hand, I think all of us have to approach this with a healthy and strong degree of skepticism…. There's no question Russia has retained its ability to veto."

Corker said that leaves the threat of force against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in Russia's hands.

Meanwhile, Levin said that the progress wouldn't have happened without President Barack Obama's threat of the use of a military strike.

"It's no coincidence that after that threat was achieved and made, and after our foreign relations committee on a bipartisan basis voted to authorize the use of force, that Russia finally decided that it would put some pressure on Syria and get involved," said Levin. "That's why it is so important that, that continuing threat be very, very clearly available."

Assad has about a week left to come up with a detailed list of the chemical weapons Syria has, show host Bob Schieffer pointed out, saying the first real test will be whether the Syrian leader will comply.

"Russia can force Assad to do what Russia wants Assad to do," Levin said. "It is the weapons provider for Assad."

But Russia has tried hard to get the United States to give up using military force, said Levin, but has "failed in that goal" because the United States retains the option.

Even though Syria has said part of its compliance will be based on whether the United States aids the opposition, Levin agrees with Corker that the United States should provide greater military support, "including anti-tank weapons for the opposition."

And Corker pointed out that "our intelligence agencies have a very good handle on who to support and who not to support," answering concerns that the United States could eventually support al Qaeda forces.

"We understand some people are going to get arms that should not be getting arms," said Corker. "But we still should be doing everything we can to support the Free Syrian opposition.

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who served during the Clinton administration, also appearing on the Sunday show, said she also does not trust Putin, "but he is the leader of the Russians who play an important role. And I don't think we have to trust him. I think we have to be able to work with him on issues of common interest and think that's where we are now."

She also thinks the Russians see the danger of chemical weapons.

"I think they also have a reason for wanted stability in the Middle East, and they also, I think, want to get re-involved in the Middle East and show their influence," Albright said.

But she also thinks Obama needs to keep the use of force on the table because "the threat of the use of force is what got us to where we are."

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