Sen. McCain addresses Tucson community on US intervention in Syria
Arizona Sen. John McCain held a town hall meeting Thursday afternoon at the Tucson Interagency Fire Center to discuss potential U.S. involvement in Syria and listen to the public’s opinion on the matter.
On Aug. 31, President Barack Obama asked Congress to vote on whether the U.S. should intervene in Syria. In 2011, the “Free Syrian Army,” a group of military officers, waged war against Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s extremist regime and have been joined by other Syrian rebel groups in an effort to overthrow Assad. The president’s request stemmed from Assad’s use of chemical weapons against Syrian rebels and civilians on Aug. 21.
With only standing-room left, about 150 Tucson community members questioned McCain’s stance on the issue. Syrians in the audience asked McCain to support U.S. intervention.
“We are asking you to help us. We need you,” a Syrian audience member told McCain. “Don’t give [Assad] time to hide. Don’t give him time to run. Kill him.”
Noel Awad, a Syrian-American who graduated from the UA in 2013 with degrees in political science and in Middle Eastern and African studies, said she opposes both Assad and American intervention.
“How do you suppose [America] will conduct a military strike and not kill innocent civilians,” Awad said. “You don’t bomb people to solve a conflict.”
Dina Jaber, a molecular and cellular biology senior, said she has been raising awareness and fundraising in Tucson and Phoenix for Syrian aid for two years now. While she disagreed with U.S. intervention in the beginning, she said she’s starting to think American assistance is the country’s only hope against Assad.
While Jaber was born and raised in America, she is of Syrian descent and said the country is like a second home to her.
“As things have been getting worse and worse it seems that no one is helping and we need the help,” Jaber said. “I would like America to help but I don’t want them to send in a bunch of troops to do the fighting for us.”
McCain explained that he does not support sending U.S. troops into Syria but believes the U.S. can assist by providing weapons for the rebels who are trying to defeat Assad.
“I promise you I will lie down on the floor of the senate before I would approve of any members of our service fighting in Syria,” McCain said.
Many audience members asked when the U.S. will begin to prioritize domestic policy instead of focusing on assisting foreign countries.
“There’s no doubt that the economy is an issue that is transcendent to all,” McCain said. “I understand your priority. If I thought that the conflict was going to be confined in Syria, I would feel somewhat differently than I do. [Syrian conflict] is spreading.”
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