PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — South Carolina Senator and presidential candidate Lindsey Graham had harsh words for the Obama administration’s handling of the Syrian crisis in the wake of Russia stepping up their military presence to support embattled dictator Bashar Al-Assad.
Graham, talking to Chris Stigall on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, warned that we need to beware of the close ties that Russian President Vladimir Putin is developing with the Iranians and the impact that will have in the Syrian conflict.
“The Iranian-Russian alliance is bad news for us because he wants to prop up Assad, who is a proxy of Russia and a puppet of Iran. Why is that bad for us? It means that Syria never heals itself and the war continues to go on. The Sunni radical Islamists like ISIL and Al Nusra now have a recruiting tool. Assad’s their biggest enemy. He’s an Alawite sponsored by Iran, so keeping Assad in power is bad news for us.”
He contends that what is happening right now could be a total upending of the status quo.
“This is a complete shift of power. If you’re an Arab, this is a bad day for you because the war in Syria involves two things that you don’t like, ISIL, which is coming after you and your kingdom and your government, and Assad, which is a proxy of your mortal enemy, the Iranians. So now, they have more influence in your back yard than ever. From an American point of view, it means the war continues. The Syrians will not accept Assad as their leader, so they’ll keep fighting and that means ISIL actually gets stronger, not weaker, more likely to attack our homeland. So this relationship between Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Russia is just a very bad deal for the region and eventually, our homeland.”
Graham was also critical of the strategy held by others, like fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, that the civil war in Syria should be allowed to continue in order to weaken all the sides currently engaged there.
“He’s completely naive. If Putin and Iran, together, run Syria it means the war in Syria never ends. It means the refugees continue to flow. It means that our allies, the King of Jordan and our friends in Lebanon are at risk. It means ISIL gets stronger, but they also have a recruiting tool for the ages. It means the Syrian people never reconcile themselves. The war goes on and Syria begins to spread and take down the entire mid-east.”