September 3, 2013
|Archbishop Cyril Aphrem Karim, left, of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch for the Eastern United States of America, and U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan today urged the Obama administration not to bomb conflict-torn Syria. (Mike Frassinelli/The Star-Ledger)|
Saying "America is not the parents of the countries of the world," U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan urged the Obama administration today not to intervene unilaterally into the Syrian conflict.
Bombing Syria would only create further chaos and instability in the Middle East and draw America into a costly and deadly war, said Lonegan, who was joined by dozens of native Syrians during a news conference at the Assyrian Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Paramus.
Lonegan, a Republican, urged the Obama administration to search for peace and solutions without missiles.
Reacting to reports of the use of deadly poison gas on civilians by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, President Obama is considering military action.
"We all agree that the use of chemical weapons is despicable, it’s horrific and should not and must not be tolerated," said Lonegan, who is running against Democrat Cory Booker in a special election Oct. 16 for Frank Lautenberg’s Senate seat. "However, for America to intervene in Syrian affairs without a clear, strategic plan and a precisely defined military outcome and a launching of missiles against this regime, could only cause more chaos, more death and more destruction for Syria and for its people."
He urged the U.S. to join with other nations in the United Nations and investigate thoroughly whether the Assad regime — and not rogue generals or former generals — carried out chemical attacks on the Syrian people.
"America is not the sole police force for the world," Lonegan said.
Earlier this week, Booker told the Huffington Post in a video interview that he was "war-weary" after a decade of U.S. military interventions in the Middle East and was not convinced all the facts were out on chemical attacks in Syria.
"My posture on Syria is that we should not be going to war, we should not be unleashing missiles," he said. "I just have a default position that’s going to always lead me first and foremost to peace."
During Lonegan’s press conference today, Syrians at the church in Paramus held up signs that read: "Hands-Off Syria."
Bashar Hanna, who moved to America from Syria in 1991 at age 19 and still has relatives there, said he hopes for a solution to the Syrian conflict that does not result in bombing.
"It’s just really confusing, because just two days before that, (Assad) allowed the UN inspectors to come into the country. So two days later, why would he use chemical weapons if he has UN inspectors there — that doesn’t make any sense," said Hanna, noting that America eventually found no chemical weapons in Iraq despite initial reports to the contrary.
"From what we hear, obviously it’s very, very bad," he said. "Everybody wants to find a solution to the problem, but it has to be a peaceful solution, and it’s between the Syrian people themselves."
Mike Ghassali, a Montvale councilman who is from Syria, said bombing Syria would do even more harm to the country.
"The situation is dire, with no food, no work, no water, no electricity," he said. "And by bombing Syria now ... it’s going to hurt Syria even more and it could be even more dire."
Archbishop Cyril Aphrem Karim, of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch for the Eastern United States of America, said bombing Syria will only intensify pressure on Christians to leave.
"There must be peaceful ways of solving it, because war will not benefit anybody," he said.
By Mike Frassinelli