U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham Calls For Arming Syrian Rebels And No Fly, No Drive Zones; Israel Urges Aid
Senior Republican leader Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has called for arming Syrian opposition rebels and wants the United Nations to declare Syria's President, Bashar, al-Assad a war criminal.
He joins Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, also on the influential Senate Armed Services Committee, in pushing for more action against Syria and its bloody crackdown on opposition groups that have been under military assault by the Syrian government for the last 11 months. The death toll is estimated between 7,000 and 10,000 by the United Nations and other aide groups.
"We need more international pressure," Graham told the program "Fox News Sunday." "We need to help the rebels militarily, economically, and let Assad know that he is an international outlaw and be held accountable."
"I think the Arab League would be a good vehicle to provide military assistance to the opposition forces and we should consider that. We should consider (a) 'no drive, no fly' zone, too, pretty quickly," Graham added.
No Fly and No Drive zones have been used in the past to limit activities of brutal governments but the results have been mixed, in Libya it worked well though.
Reuters reports that: Graham suggested that the international community should use a similar approach to support Syria's opposition as was used by NATO in buttressing the rebels who eventually toppled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last year.
"I think the Libyan model could serve us well," Graham said, although he did not lay out specifics for a U.S. role.
However, U.S. officials have been slow to take action against Assad, in part because Syrian and Iran are allies, and this is an election year for the United States, where Obama is running for reelection as president. Bipartisan support has been building in congress for the U.S. to take a more prominent role in ending the Syrian crisis.
Blumenthal has said that the U.S. can do the same role is did in Libya, providing weapons to organized opposition groups and helping to enforce no fly and no drive zones, but that no U.S. troops would be on the ground.
Despite attempt by the Arab League, and international efforts, Syria has not relented on its assault on what it calls "armed gangs and criminal thugs" and that there are no opposition groups. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with an overwhelming majority of countries in the world have called on Assad to step down.
Israel has urged the world to help in providing humanitarian aid to Syrian's saying "We need to set all political considerations aside," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said. "What is happening there, in the 21st century, is intolerable. We must render assistance."
Israel has remained in a state of war with Syria sine the Jewish nation was founded, fighting several battles.
Lieberman, considered an ultra-nationalist, said the violence being committed by Assad on innocent civilians is "more shocking than the worst horror movies in Hollywood."