Washington D.C. – After visiting the Jordan-Syria Border, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith released the following statement on the situation in Syria:
“It now appears that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons to kill hundreds of Syrian civilians and the world must respond. The overall stability of the Middle East region and the security of our allies – including Turkey, Jordan, and Israel – are of critical importance to the security of the United States. Preventing al Qaeda from establishing a secure base of operations in Syria is vitally important to protecting the United States from terrorist attacks.
“In response, we should expand and accelerate our support for moderate elements of the opposition forces with both military and non-military aid. I also support efforts to help our regional allies cope with the wide range of spillover effects from the Syrian civil war. To be clear, I am not calling for an open-ended commitment to remove the Assad regime, but that does not mean we cannot act in a way that is consistent with our interests and values.
“We should be under no illusion that such aid will significantly influence the outcome of the struggle against Assad. But the Free Syrian Army exists and we must be better positioned to combat extremism. They can help us in the future, but only if we help them first.
“Al Qaeda's presence in Syria is extremely disturbing - a similar presence in Yemen eventually led to attempted attacks on the United States. We must have allies in Syria who can help us prevent a similar occurrence there. Even if the Geneva 2 process succeeds, the collapse of the regime would result in a lengthy period of instability when we would need allies."
“I am still waiting to see what specifically the Administration and other involved partners have to say about a potential military strike, but I am concerned about how effective such an action could be and, above all else, I am worried that such action could drag the United States into a broader direct involvement in the conflict.
“Military action could have significant consequences and there is no guarantee that it would improve the situation or promote a positive outcome. Any potential use of military force will have long-term costs and will put our troops in harm’s way. Simply lashing out with military force under the banner of “doing something” will not secure our interests in Syria.”