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Sen. Ayotte opposes attack on Syria, blasts “incoherent and inconsistent” U.S. strategy

Last modified: 9/12/2013 11:33:32 AM
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte said yesterday she won’t support the use of military force against Syria “at this time,” blaming an “incoherent and inconsistent” strategy on the part of President Obama’s administration.

“In reflecting on the president’s speech last night and the many briefings I have received on Syria, despite my best attempts to discern it, I am left with the conclusion that the administration’s strategy on Syria is incoherent and inconsistent,” said Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, in a statement.

“While I believe we have important strategic interests in the region, I could not at this time support committing U.S. military force in Syria in the absence of a well thought out strategy and plan to achieve definable military objectives that are consistent with our national security interests and those of our allies,” she added.

The U.S. government has said the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been fighting a bloody civil war against rebels since spring 2011, used nerve gas to kill more than 1,400 people in an Aug. 21 attack outside Damascus.

Obama called for a U.S. military strike against Syria in response and asked Congress for authorization to use force. But in a televised speech to the nation Tuesday night, Obama said more time is needed to explore diplomatic options, including the possible voluntary elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. He asked congressional leaders to delay the vote.

Until yesterday, Ayotte was the sole member of New Hampshire’s four-woman congressional delegation who had not signaled her position on Obama’s request.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, voted Sept. 4 for the resolution authorizing an attack on Syria as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Following Obama’s speech Tuesday, Shaheen said she was hopeful a diplomatic solution could be reached.

“I’m working with my colleagues in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on an amendment to give diplomacy a chance to work, but to also pressure the Syrians to take concrete steps towards the transfer of their chemical weapons to international control,” Shaheen said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat, said Sept. 3 she would vote against attacking Syria. U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, also a Democrat, said last Thursday she was leaning against voting to authorize a strike against Syria.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)


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