Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that a wrong move in Syria almost ensures a war between Israel and Iran, challenging President Obama to articulate his case for military intervention in the region and telling his congressional colleagues to come up with a plan.
“I think the American people have to understand if this war goes another year, here’s what’s likely to happen: there will be tens of thousands of al Qaeda in Syria, there will be a toppling of the King of Jordan, the last moderate voice in the region and a close ally to us and Israel — he’ll be gone in another year because of the refugee problem,” Mr. Graham said on CNN’s “New Day.” “The chemical weapons will be loose and in the hands of Hezbollah and may come our way, so … Iran is watching every move we make in Syria.”
Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, met with Mr. Obama Monday at the White House to outline their concerns on the issue.
“If we get Syria wrong, if we show weakness here regarding Assad’s chemical weapons utilization, you’re almost ensuring a war between Israel and Iran over their nuclear program, and we will surely get drawn into that,” Mr. Graham said Tuesday. “So to the American people: if you’re worried about the Iranians getting a nuclear weapon, as I am, the last card to play to stop that is how we handle Syria.”
Mr. Graham said that he hopes Mr. Obama will lay all this out and make his case for action to the American people.
“There’s a lot at stake in Syria and the president, above all others, needs to up his game,” he said. “If he doesn’t engage and persuade the American people, this vote is going to be too close to call right now. And if we lost this vote — oh my God, I can only imagine how it would make us look [throughout] the world. But if we have a weak response, where it’s just [a] ‘check the block’ response, that’s just as bad.”
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“So the president needs to up his game,” he continued. “I’m willing to help if I can see a strategy that can protect our nation, to stop this war from spreading … if we get Syria right, maybe we can avoid a war between Israel and Iran, which we would surely get [dragged] into.”
Mr. Graham said the president has his own decision as commander-in-chief whether to act even without support from Congress, but also challenged his colleagues to come up with a plan to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, help boost the rebel opposition and engage regional players.
“If we fail in Syria, if we fail to stand up for the right thing and to send the right messages, the whole region is going to go down in flames,” he said. “And I’ve been saying that for two years … the worst is yet to come if we don’t get this right.”