Syria is using chemical weapons in its civil war because "we have an indecisive president who's sending mixed messages to everyone in the Middle East," Rep. Steve Stockman tells Newsmax TV.
"He's really created a tinder box that's going to be in flames for years, and we'll be paying for his indecisiveness," the Texas Republican, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. "He's created a mess, so either side we choose is going to be ridiculously bad."
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Syria's main opposition group on Wednesday accused President Bashar al-Assad's regime of killing more than 650 people in a chemical weapon attack near Damascus.
Activists had earlier reported some 500 killed as a result of gas inhalation and exposure to chemical weapons.
And the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British monitoring group, said that at least 100 people were killed in an attack that struck several rebel areas east and southwest of Damascus.
Meanwhile, Syrian officials have denied charges that the army used chemical weapons, saying the reports were intended to hinder the mission of U.N. inspectors now in the country.
In June, the White House said Syrian government forces had crossed the red line set by President Barack Obama in using chemical weapons and therefore the United States would send arms to the rebels.
"Gassing your own people is pretty horrific," Stockman tells Newsmax. "We should probably eliminate some of their planes to keep them from using weapons of mass destruction. We have the ability to take a quick strike at some of the planes.
"If you start taking out their planes, it's going to get their attention," he adds. "They're not going to want to jeopardize using more chemical weapons. It doesn't have to be necessarily United States involvement, but we can do something that keeps them from taking out those kinds of measures on their own people."
Stockman calls Secretary of State John Kerry's reinstatement this week of four State Department staffers demoted in the Benghazi scandal "cynical" and says a special prosecutor is needed to investigate the deaths of four Americans there last Sept. 11.
"I don't think they ever intended to punish anybody. It was window-dressing to get the heat off Hillary," he says, referring to Kerry's predecessor, Hillary Clinton. "Right now, we've had two hearings in which I believe witnesses were intimidated. The Democrats released the names of the witnesses prior to the hearing — and all of them decided not to testify.
"There's reports now they've actually been given witness protection, changing the names of some of the people," Stockman says. "It's really a devious and, quite frankly, cynical move on the part of this administration to literally give people vacation.
"Four Americans are dead — and the only response here is coming up on a year from now is silence. We really need a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi."
Stockman says he is working on legislation to force House Speaker John Boehner to name a special prosecutor for Benghazi. "It demands that the speaker appoint a special prosecutor.
"I'm hoping that, as we come up on the anniversary — along with these cynical moves that were done when Congress was not in session — that we try to build some pressure on the speaker to appoint a special prosecutor."
The United States, also, should not become involved in the Egyptian crisis, Stockman says, despite reports that President Obama has secretly begun withholding aid to the troubled country.
"We have two of our allies in the region — Saudi Arabia, which is not a democracy, and Israel, which is a democracy — and it's unusual to see a Jewish state and a Muslim state agree.
"Both those states, which are American allies, are asking us not to interfere in the internal politics of Egypt. I tend to lean on that side. By jumping in ahead of time, you can only cut off aid once to a nation — and we would use the one card we have left. It was a mistake."
He adds that he disagrees with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has said he fears Egypt becoming a "failed state."
"It's not a failed state — and we need to be careful on which side we choose," Stockman says. "A lot of the Muslim Brotherhood are burning churches right and, ironically, that's the side that the administration's on."
Overall, he says that Obama is "voting present" on Egypt and on foreign policy in general.
"When he was a senator, he was indecisive. He voted present many times — and I almost feel like on foreign policy, he's voting present.
"Right now, his State Department says one thing; he says another," Stockman tells Newsmax. "No one really knows what exactly his foreign policy is on Egypt.
"Clearly, we need to stand back and not get involved, but he's sending signals that he's getting involved and that, in turn, would alienate a lot of our allies in the region."
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