Republicans question whether Syria deal has enough teeth

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) (C) is trailed by reporters as he arrives for a closed-door briefing by high-level members of the Obama administration on their proposal to
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) (C) is trailed by reporters as he arrives for a closed-door briefing by high-level members of the Obama administration. Credit: Reuters

Leading U.S. Republican lawmakers voiced skepticism on Sunday about whether a deal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons could work without a credible threat of force pressuring the Syrian government to comply.

The agreement, reached on Saturday after talks between the United States and Russia, calls on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to account for his chemical stockpile within a week and allow for international inspections by the middle of next year.

“If the president believes, like I do, that a credible military force helps you get a diplomatic solution, they gave that away in this deal. I’m really concerned about that,” Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN.

“Not one ounce of chemical weapons came off the battlefield but we’ve given up every ounce of our leverage when it comes to trying to solve the broader Syrian problem because we’ve taken away a credible military threat,” said Rogers, a Michigan lawmaker.

Obama said on Saturday that the United States “remains prepared to act” should diplomatic efforts fail in Syria.

Republicans have been highly critical of Obama’s handling of the Syria crisis, calling his policy muddled. He made a surprise decision two weeks ago to seek authorization from the U.S. Congress for a military strike after an August 21 chemical attack in Syria.

But he faced strong resistance from lawmakers and decided last week to explore a possible weapons deal proposed by Russia.

“I think we should be skeptical until we see how this unfolds,” said Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Corker said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a “weak hand” when he went to Geneva to negotiate the deal with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Senator John McCain, who has pushed for deeper U.S. involvement in Syria, criticized the accord, saying it gives Russia the power to effectively determine Syria’s compliance.

“I think it’s a loser because I think it gave Russia a position in the Middle East which they haven’t had since the 1970s,” McCain said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.”

“We are now depending on the goodwill of the Russian people if Bashar Assad violates this agreement,” he said. “I am of the firm belief, given his record, that it’s a very big gamble.”

Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations, was cautious on the deal.

“If it works, then they get rid of chemical weapons without use of force,” he said.

But Menendez added that if Assad does not comply, “we’re back to where we started except Assad has bought more time on the battlefield and has continued to ravage innocent civilians.”

Some other Democrats said the agreement was a hopeful sign.

“I don’t know that I trust the Russians but I think this agreement is a very positive step,” said Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and member of the House Intelligence Committee.

The agreement states that a Security Council resolution should allow for regular assessments of Syria’s behavior and “in the event of non-compliance … the U.N. Security Council should impose measures under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.”

Chapter VII can include force but can be limited to other kinds of sanction.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.