The US President Barack Obama's plan to launch military strikes on Syria has cleared the first hurdle with a key Senate committee voting to authorise him to take action against the Assad regime.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after more than 6 hours of deliberations spread over two days, voted 10-7 to approve the authorisation resolution in this regard.
The war resolution allows US a time frame of 60 days to achieve its objective to degrade chemical weapons capabilities of the Assad regime but prevents the use of troops on ground.The full Senate is now expected to debate the measure and vote early next week.
In a statement, the White House commended for moving swiftly and for working across party lines on behalf of the national security, adding that the US is stronger when its President and Congress work together.
"The military action authorised in the resolution would uphold America's national security interests by degrading Assad's chemical weapons capability and deterring the future use of these weapons, even as we pursue a broader strategy of strengthening the opposition to hasten a political transition in Syria," the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said.
"We will continue to work with Congress to build on this bipartisan support for a military response that is narrowly tailored to enforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and sufficient to protect the national security interests of the United States of America," Carney said.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee also began deliberations yesterday and the House of Representatives too is expected to vote on it next week.
Following the vote, Senator Bob Corker, Ranking Member of Foreign Relations Committee, said the authorisation significantly limited the President's original authorisation, while still providing for an appropriate use of force in response to Assad's use of chemical weapons.
"It prevents boots on the ground, limits the duration of any military action, and requires a progress report on the administration's overall Syria policy," said Corker.
He said that as the issue heads to the full senate, the American people deserved a full and open debate about US interests in Syria.
"The authorisation our committee approved gives the President the authority he needs to take limited action in response to the Assad regime's illegal use of chemical weapons," Senator Ben Cardin said, adding, that it also sends a strong signal to rogue actors around the globe that US would not tolerate their belligerence.
"America's allies and friends in the region – including Jordan, Israel and Turkey - must know that we are serious about protecting our shared national security interests. Inaction would simply bolster those who wish to lash out and do harm to us," he said.
House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer termed it as an important first step to give the President the authority he needs to take decisive action to deter the Assad from further use of chemical weapons and degrade its capacity to do so.
"It is in our national security interest and in the interest of global security to make certain that the consequences of using weapons of mass destruction are absolutely clear to the Assad regime, other nations, and non-state actors that would contemplate their development or deployment," he said.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday held a committee meeting to address the authorisation of use of military force in Syria and discharged from committee a bill for full consideration of the Senate that would grant the President authorisation to use military force in Syria. However, there were several Senators who voted against the authorisation.
"I remain unconvinced that the use of force proposed here will work. The only thing that will prevent Assad from using chemical weapons in the future is for the Syrian people to remove him from power," Senator Marco Rubio said.
"The strike the administration wants us to approve I do not believe furthers that goal. And in fact, I believe US military action of the type contemplated here might prove to be counterproductive," he said adding that after a few days of missile strikes, it will allow Assad, for example, to emerge and claim that he took on the United States, and survived.
"This idea that a military response is the only way to respond to what is happening in Syria is just not true. Instead our response should have always have been a multifaceted plan to help the Syrian people get rid of Assad and replace him with a secular government," he said.
Senator Rand Paul, a member of the committee, who voted against the authorisation said the US is embarking on a military solution.
"The President has failed to demonstrate a compelling American national interest in the Syrian civil war," he said.
"To be sure, there is a tragedy of a horrific nature in Syria, but I am unconvinced that a limited Syrian bombing campaign will achieve its intended goals," Paul said.
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