A bipartisan bill intended to help end the Syrian government’s killing of its citizens has drawn opposition from Orange County Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, to the disbelief of some of his Capitol Hill colleagues. Nearly half a million civilians have been killed in Syria.
The measure, HR 1677, would expand sanctions on those who provide certain types of assistance to the Syrian government. It would hold war criminals accountable and promote an end to the conflict.
Rohrabacher told colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the measure established an unfair double-standard. The Costa Mesa Republican said the U.S. had sided with leaders in Egypt and Libya who were similar to Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad, pointed out that ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein did not end conflict in that country and complained that the proposed legislation was fueled in part by a desire to punish Russia.
“(It’s) not going to lead to a more peaceful world in the end if we do get rid of Assad, even though Assad is no more brutal than many of these other regimes that are our friends,” Rohrabacher said in a 3 1/2 minute speech. “We get rid of him, we’re going to have a terrorist regime. … It will result in many, many more civilians losing their lives.”
Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, said the bill did not call for regime change, but simply an end to murder of civilians. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-FL, unsuccessfully called on Rohrabacher “to acknowledge that our allies do not engage in all of those same activities.”
But Adam Kinzinger, R-IL, was less formal in voicing his objections.
“Dana, you’re my friend but … I officially ran out of WTFs during that entire speech,” Kinzinger said. “To put a moral equivalency of our action in Mosul to what Bashar al-Assad is doing made me honestly want to throw up. It was embarrassing.”
Rohrabacher protested that his concerns and comparisons were inappropriately framed as setting up a…