Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today on U.S. policy in Syria:
“I am deeply disturbed by statements today by our Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations regarding the future of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Their suggestion that Assad can stay in power appears to be just as devoid of strategy as President Obama's pronouncements that ‘Assad must go.’ Once again, U.S. policy in Syria is being presented piecemeal in press statements without any definition of success, let alone a realistic plan to achieve it.
“Secretary of State Tillerson said today that the longer-term status of Bashar Assad ‘will be decided by the Syrian people.’ But this overlooks the tragic reality that the Syrian people cannot decide the fate of Assad or the future of their country when they are being slaughtered by Assad's barrel bombs, Putin's aircraft, and Iran's terrorist proxies. U.S. policy must reflect such basic facts.
“Ultimately, the administration's statements today could lead America's true allies and partners in the fight against ISIS to fear the worst: a Faustian bargain with Assad and Putin sealed with an empty promise of counterterrorism cooperation. Such a policy would only exacerbate the terrorist threat to our nation. Not only would we make ourselves complicit in Assad and Putin's butchery that has led to more than 400,000 Syrians killed and six million refugees, but we would empower ISIS, al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist terrorists as the only alternative to the dictator that the Syrian people have fought for six years to remove. Trying to fight ISIS while pretending that we can ignore the Syrian civil war that was its genesis and fuels it to this day is a recipe for more war, more terror, more refugees, and more instability. I hope President Trump will make clear that America will not follow this self-destructive and self-defeating path."