Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

August 31, 2013

Cong. delegation voices concerns about Iran

Republicans believe Syrian issue should be debated.

By Ken de la Bastide
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Members of Indiana’s congressional delegation are expressing concerns that military action against Syria might escalate into attacks on Israel by Iran.

They also believe any military intervention should be debated by Congress before the U.S. uses military force.

As of Friday, President Barack Obama had not decided to use military force to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for using of chemical weapons against civilians.

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., a member of the Armed Services Committee, is following the situation very closely, said Elizabeth Shappell, his communications director.

“Like all Hoosiers, he strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons and is carefully reviewing proposed options for ongoing humanitarian assistance and possible military action,” she said.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., believes President Obama has failed to develop a long-term strategy for Syria, leaving the U.S. without good options, said Tara DiJulio, communications director.

“Sen. Coats is deeply concerned about the impact the chaos in Syria has on our allies and the impact a U.S. response will have on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons,” she said. “Iran will be looking at how the U.S. responds to Syria after President Obama drew his red line several months ago.”

DiJulio said Coats believes the U.S. should work with its allies on a comprehensive strategy to stop the Assad regime and the use of chemical weapons.

Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District, said Tuesday in Tipton she has not been informed of the president’s plans.

“The president should be consulting with Congress if he is planning on intervening,” she said. “I was in Israel two weeks ago with a number of House Republicans and actually stood in the Golan Heights and saw the conflict.

“I’m very concerned about Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” Brooks said. “It is horrific.”

Brooks is concerned the conflict will spill over into Israel, the U.S.’s greatest ally in the Middle East.

“There are refugees pouring into Jordan and Turkey,” she said. “We must pay attention to this and have a plan. It’s an atrocity; I’m concerned with Iran backing Syria. The real threat to the U.S. is Iran.”

Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th District, said based on current information, he is not supportive of intervention in Syria.

“I do not believe there is an imminent threat to the United States,” he said. “The president must consult and make his case to Congress for authorization to engage in this internal conflict that has entangled the entire region.”

Rokita said a regime change in Syria will be worse than the internal strife in Egypt and would destabilize Syria’s neighbors.

“I am particularly concerned that Syria and Iran could attack Israel if we attack Syria,” he said. “The situation remains ever fluid and I will continue to monitor events as they unfold, but this issue must be debated in Congress before action is authorized.”