Rooney on Syria: ‘I’m pretty against getting involved in a Sunni-Shia civil war’by George Bennett | August 27th, 2013
U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, says he’s “apprehensive” and “wary” of any U.S. military action in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad‘s use of chemical weapons to kill civilians has heightened speculation that President Barack Obama will approve military action against the Assad regime.
Rooney called Assad a “despot,” but said the rebels opposing him have been infiltrated by Al Qaeda. Rooney last month proposed legislation to bar the U.S. from helping arm groups fighting in Syria.
“I’m pretty against getting involved in a Sunni-Shia civil war,” Rooney said in an interview today. He said he’s adamantly opposed to committing ground troops to the region and skeptical that bombs or missiles alone would be effective.
“If he (Obama) can show evidence that the way he wants to get rid of the chemical weapons doesn’t include us getting involved with personnel, certainly I’m not shutting off his game plan. But I don’t think he has one yet,” said Rooney, a former Army officer and a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
“What are we bombing?…What is the target? Using Tomahawk Cruise missiles from battleships to target known chemical weapons sites…certainly that’s something to talk about, but I don’t know that you could have any kind of surety,” Rooney said. “You’re increasing the risk that there’s going to be mission-creep.”
The best hope for Syria might be some type of cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia, Rooney said. But, he added,”our relationship with them is as bad as it’s been since the Cold War…I don’t see a pathway to any kind of United States involvement that brings any kind of resolution to the matter.”