Syrian Woman to McCain: Stop Supporting Al Qaeda!

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Joshua Cook

Joshua Cook is a native and resident of the South Carolina Upstate. He received his MBA from North Greenville University and is actively involved in South Carolina politics.
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“Right now, no one’s denying there’s a lot of atrocities being committed in Syria, whether on the rebel side or the other side.” That began a passionate plea from a Syrian Christian woman to John McCain at a town hall meeting on Thursday.  In her two and a half minute discussion, she explained the plight of Syrian Christians, Al Qaida’s involvement with the country’s rebel forces, and offered an alternative way to stop the bloodshed in the country.  McCain’s response, however, addressed none of the issues the woman raised.

“I have a cousin who was 18 years old, who just was killed 10 days ago by the so-called rebels, and Al Qaida,” she said. “And they’re not Syrian.  They’re coming to Syria from all over the world to fight this.  We cannot afford to do that.  We cannot afford to turn Syria into another Iraq or Afghanistan.”  Her analysis of the situation was correct, and far from unique.  In Afghanistan in the 1970s, rebel forces aided by the US – including Osama Bin Laden – entered the country from Saudi Arabia and surrounding countries to participate in the fighting.  In Bosnia, too, Mujahideen from North Africa and the Middle East committed atrocities against the wishes of Bosnian leaders and later became citizens of the highly secular country.

“I don’t like Bashar al Assad either, but at least he has a secular government…It is secular, Senator McCain, we are the minority Christians who, unfortunately, you and so many in the Senate are just considering collateral damage.”  She offered a solution to the conflict, though.  By forcing Saudi Arabia to stop supporting the rebels, and stopping Iran from supporting Assad’s government, the fighting would become much less intense because it wouldn’t be a regional geopolitical battle; it would simply be another revolution.  “You could do it by diplomacy and negotiations, not bombs.”

McCain thanked her for her “emotional statement,” but went on to say that “I, too, have been to Syria.  I, too, know the people who are fighting there.”  He called Syria a “moderate nation,” saying that it would not ultimately embrace the foreign fighters.  Such a statement is naïve at best.  In a power vacuum, as occurs after a revolution, the most organized group of people can easily seize control whether or not that’s the will of the general population.  Did Afghanistan want the Taliban?  Egypt has already rejected the Muslim Brotherhood leaders that the US government and media were so eager to say was democratically elected.  McCain concluded his argument by saying that he strongly disagreed with the woman’s idea – she never defended Assad – that Assad was anything other than a “merciless butcher.”

McCain’s response belittled the woman’s personal experiences, and even dismissed her cogent analysis of the situation and suggestion for the US actions to create the best possible outcome.  The interaction highlighted not only the problems with Syrian intervention, but McCain’s sheer arrogance toward his constituents.

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