Dear Mr. Balouziyeh:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent events in Syria. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
In recent months, Syria has undergone a wave of revolutionary protests demanding democratic reform and an end to the Assad regime. Rather than addressing these legitimate concerns, Bashar al Assad deployed military forces to crush peaceful demonstrations and unjustly imprison thousands of protestors. As a result, it is estimated that more than 9,000 people have been killed thus far. And there is no end in sight to the slaughter.
From the beginning, I have paid close attention to the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground. I was one of the first to call for democratic reform and an end to the Assad regime. Additionally, I was one of the original cosponsors of a bipartisan resolution calling for universal freedoms in Syria and an end to the human rights violations. I agree with President Obama’s decision to impose sanctions on Bashar al Assad and other top Syrian officials.
However, despite these and other good measures to pressure Assad to stop the killing and leave power, his campaign of violence is only escalating. It is therefore clear to me that the negotiated transition and peaceful settlement we all seek will only be possible by changing the military balance of power on the ground against Assad. That is why I have advocated providing opposition fighters in Syria with the means to defend themselves, to establish “safe zones” to protect civilians, and to take necessary steps to defend those areas, including through the use of foreign airpower.
The departure of Assad from power would bring an end to a regime in Syria that has slaughtered its own people, occupied and destabilized Lebanon, funded and armed terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, assisted foreign fighters in their journey to Iraq to kill American troops during the war, and which has for decades served as the forward operating base of the Iranian regime in the Arab world. Indeed as General Mattis, the Commander of U.S. Central Command, recently testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee, the fall of the Assad regime in Syria would represent “the biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years.” This is a goal that is strongly in the U.S. national security interest, and we must do everything we can to achieve it.
Once again, thank you for writing me on this very important issue. Please be assured that I will continue to monitor the situation in Syria very closely and will keep your concerns in mind as we move forward.
United States Senator