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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

Remarks in Opposition to Authorizing the Arming and Training of FSA (Free Syrian Army)

September 17, 2014
Press Release

September 17, 2014

Congressman McClintock today delivered the following House floor remarks in opposition to H.J. Res 124, to authorize the arming and training of the FSA (Free Syrian Army):

Mr. Speaker:

All of us recognize the threat posed to our nation by the Islamic State.  The question before us is whether to arm and train supposedly vetted elements of the Free Syrian Army as a proxy ground force.

I respect the intentions of the supporters, but this proposal runs great risk of back-firing.   

The FSA is a marriage of convenience among many Islamist factions that have a long history of collaborating with the Islamic State.  The singular purpose of the FSA is NOT to destroy the Islamic State but to destroy the Syrian Government that is now actively fighting the Islamic State.  The equipment we provide to the FSA could easily be turned against the Syrian government, weakening regional opposition to the I.S.  

Or this equipment could be turned over to the Islamic State as we watched “carefully vetted” Iraqi Security Forces recently do.  In fact, that’s the reason the Islamic State is armed to the teeth – with American equipment.

Neither we nor the world can afford any more blunders or miscalculations in this region.  We should have learned by now that alliances in  the Middle East are in constant flux – an ally today is a sworn enemy tomorrow – in fact, our allies often ARE our enemies.  

After I was elected, the first young man from my district killed in Iraq, Army Specialist Jeremiah McCleery, died when “carefully vetted” Iraqi soldiers turned their weapons on him.  The most recent fatality from my district, Marine Staff Sergeant Sky Mote, died when “carefully vetted” Afghan police turned their weapons on him.

Mr. Speaker, our consistent experience in this region should warn us that we are making a big mistake.