Engel, Rangel differ on Syria
By Shant Shahrigian
The two congressmen representing the Northwest Bronx sharply disagree on a proposed U.S. strike against Syria.
President Barack Obama has called for military action in response to accusations Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad attacked civilians last month with chemical weapons in that county’s ongoing civil war.
According to U.S. officials, Syrian forces used sarin gas in the assault, killing an estimated 1,400 people, including more than 400 children.
While Congressman Charles Rangel has rejected military intervention, Rep. Eliot Engel supports Mr. Obama’s push to attack Syria.
“I am not ready to explain to my constituents why using poison gas against [Syria’s] own people is a United States problem,” Mr. Rangel said on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show on Tuesday.
The longtime Democratic legislator went on to say the U.S. should lead an international effort to bring a political resolution to Syria’s more than two-year-long civil war, although he did not provide details on how that would take shape.
In a recent round of media appearances, Mr. Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representative’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said he would vote to authorize a U.S. strike on Syria.
“I just don’t think it’s something we can look the other way and say, ‘Well, it’s halfway around the world, who cares?’” Mr. Engel said on CNN’s New Day on Monday. “We do care, and we also have a strategic interest there because our adversaries are not stopping.”
Mr. Engel was quoted by other outlets as saying Iran, which is suspected of developing nuclear weapons, is watching the U.S. to see how it responds to Syria’s use of a weapon of mass destruction.
In a statement on his website, Mr. Rangel, whose district includes Marble Hill, said the U.S. should reinstate the draft before committing military personnel to another war. “Military engagement should be our last resort,” Mr. Rangel’s statement read.
Mr. Obama surprised observers on Saturday by announcing he will seek congressional authorization to launch a military strike in Syria instead of initiating an attack by his own orders. A vote is expected soon.
KeywordsRep. Eliot Engel, Rep. Charles Rangel, President Barack Obama, Syria, military action, Shant Shahrigian