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Syria Plan Not Gaining Traction With Central TX Lawmakers

Updated: Tuesday, September 10 2013, 10:20 AM CDT

President Obama's plan to launch missile strikes on Syria in retaliation for that country's alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians isn't gaining much traction from Central Texas' congressional delegation.

A day after U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, whose 25th District covers much of Central Austin, told KEYE-TV that "going into Syria right now is not the right thing," Congressman Michael McCaul, whose 10th District stretches from North Austin to Harris County, echoed the sentiments on the University of Texas Campus.

"It's not a good situation. I don't see any good outcome," the Republican chair of the House Homeland Security Committee told us. "On the one hand, you have a puppet of Iran who's used chemical weapons in violation of Geneva Convention. But on the other hand, when I ask who are the rebel forces, it's even more disturbing."

McCaul says intelligence indicates those forces engaged in the civil war against the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad are now largely made up of jihadist groups, some from outside the country.

"Any attack on the Assad regime only emboldens al-Qaida in my judgment," McCaul warned. "My greatest concern is the vacuum being opened like we saw in Egypt and in Libya and then these al-Qaida factions taking over the Syria government and then getting their hands on these chemical weapons."

The comments resemble a line by Texas' junior Senator Ted Cruz who, talking to a conservative radio talk show host on Tuesday, said a strike would turn the U.S. into "al-Qaida's air force."

That comment drew fire from a fellow Republican congressman. Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger called it a "cheap line" and said it wasn't "part of a serious discussion about what is going on in Syria."

The intra-party squabbling illustrates the nebulous divide in Washington over the proposed strikes against Syria. Another Austin representative, Democrat Lloyd Doggett, has aired his doubts over the plan developed by the nominal leader of his own party, President Obama.

Syria Plan Not Gaining Traction With Central TX Lawmakers

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The Syrian civil war, (also known as the Syrian uprising or Syrian crisis) is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba'ath government and those seeking to oust it. A part of the larger Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring, the conflict began March 15th, 2011 with local demonstrations that grew in scope to become nationwide by April 2011.

Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971, as well as the end of Ba'ath Party rule, which began in 1963.

The Syrian Army was deployed in April of 2011 to stop the uprising, and soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country. After months of cities and neighborhoods being cut-off by the Army the protests evolved into an armed rebellion.

The Arab League, United States, European Union, and other countries condemned the use of violence against the protesters. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership as a result of the government's response to the crisis, but granted the Syrian National Coalition, a coalition of Syrian political opposition groups, Syria's seat on 6 March 2013.

According to the UN, about 4 million Syrians have been displaced within the country and 2 million have fled to other countries.

Syrian government supporters include Russia and Iran, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing material and weapons to the rebels.


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