September 8, 2012 - 09:39 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham on Friday urged Washington to help arm Syria's rebels with weapons and create a safe zone inside the country for a transition government, The Associated Press reports.
They also called for a far tougher position against Iran over its suspected – and seemingly inexorable – drive toward acquiring nuclear weapons capability.
McCain blasted President Barack Obama, who defeated him in the 2008 presidential election, for recently setting the "red line" for Syria at use of chemical weapons.
"If you're (Syrian President) Bashar Assad ... maybe you interpret that to mean that you can do anything short of chemical weapons before the United States will intervene," the Republican from Arizona told the Ambrosetti Forum, a gathering of political and business leaders on the shores of Lake Como in Italy.
Lieberman and McCain – who together with Graham have toured the volatile Middle East in recent days – both argued that the longer the West waits the more jihadists will gain influence in the rebellion.
"We should be supplying weapons to the opposition to Assad (and) I strongly support the creation of a safe zone," said Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, who has since become a Connecticut independent.
"The opposition has effectively seized control of a piece of land in northern Syria," he said. "If we help them protect themselves from Assad's helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft they can establish a transitional government ... I am confident that if we set it up and told (the regime) that if they attacked it there would be a vigorous response, they would not attack it."
He said such a zone would enable potential future leaders now located in places like Istanbul and Paris to establish a presence among the people.
Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, agreed that people in the West are war-weary, but argued that if Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney "would speak out more forcefully about the consequences of doing nothing compared to the consequences of taking a calculated risk, public opinion would change."
"It is better to shape history than to see it pass by," he said.