State representatives want serious discussion on Syria, Middle East

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Alabama’s representatives in Washington are preparing to weigh in on a tough decision – whether or not to back a strike against Syria.

President Barack Obama won critical support from House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday for the United States to lead a punitive strike on the country for a suspected chemical weapons attack the administration blames for more than 1,400 deaths – 400 of which were children.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and U.S. Rep. Martha Roby both said they believe serious discussions are in order before military action happens.

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“I am carefully weighing the decision before Congress on Syria,” Roby said. “I want to see all the relevant information from our military and intelligence sources, and also listen to the views and concerns of those I represent here in Alabama.”

Roby said, though it doesn’t appear necessary at the moment, she is willing to cut her scheduled town hall visits in Alabama short to return to Washington.

“Over the last six months, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations [of which Roby is chair] has been focused on getting to the bottom of the military’s preparedness leading up to the Benghazi attack, and asking what changes have been made to ensure such an attack will never happen again,” Roby said. “Now, here we are a week away from 9-11 and the stakes couldn’t be much higher for our next move in the Middle East.”

Sessions, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, believes a clear national policy must be made concerning the United States and the Middle East.

“I look forward to the initiation of a very serious – and overdue – discussion in Congress about Syria and our broader strategy in the chaotic Middle East. It is critical that the Administration articulate a clear national policy as we contemplate further involvement in this dangerous and complex region,” Sessions said. “Certainly the American people are correct to be concerned about our position in the Middle East, particularly our seeming lack of any clear strategy or purpose.”

While France has made it clear they will not carry out punitive missile strikes against Syria on it’s own, the country joins the United States in believing the alleged chemical attack by Syria violates international conventions.

Russia and Iran continue to back Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and do not believe there is evidence of a governmental role in the chemical attack.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that any “punitive” action could unleash more turmoil and bloodshed in Syria’s civil war.

Obama’s proposed strike on Syria would require no “boots on the ground.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.