Republican Senator and 2008 presidential candidate John McCain has called on the Obama administration to launch airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Senator McCain, the senior Republican member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that “[t]he only realistic way to [support Syria’s rebels] is with foreign airpower…The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces.”
McCain’s comments come as the US and its European and Arab partners continue to pressure newly-reelected Russia President Vladimir Putin to abandon Russia’s obstructionist position on Syria. Russia is a key player in the Syrian imbroglio, as Syria’s patron and main trading partner, and without its cooperation, the international community appears to be paralyzed in the face of the government repression that has led to the deaths of over 7,500 people. Hundreds of Syrian’s have also fled their homes to nearby Lebanon and Turkey, exacerbating a burgeoning humanitarian crisis.
The Senator’s position is also in stark contrast to the current policy of the Obama administration, which seeks to solve the year-old crisis through diplomatic isolation and a sanctions regime intended to prod Assad into stepping down. But Assad’s unrelenting, and even intensifying, crackdown on dissidents suggests that Assad will not abdicate his rule so easily.