McCain hits Obama on Annan Syria 'failure'
03 August 2012, 10:26
Washington - US Senator John McCain took a jab at the United Nations and President Barack Obama's administration on Thursday, saying Kofi Annan's Syria mission was "doomed to failure from the beginning".
While the White House blamed former UN chief Annan's resignation as UN-Arab League envoy on the refusal of Russia and China to back resolutions targeting Syrian President Bashar Assad, McCain said Washington and the United Nations should share the responsibility.
"It was doomed to failure from the beginning," McCain said of Annan's mission during a 14-minute Senate floor speech on the Syria crisis.
"It was motivated on the premise that somehow UN observers could come in and stand between the two fighting forces and totally ignore the fundamentals of this conflict," he said.
The Republican McCain, a national security hawk who ran unsuccessfully for the White House against Obama in 2008, said it was "ludicrous" for the president to rely on Russia, the key weapons provider for the regime in Damascus, to convince Assad to relinquish power.
"Isn't it foolish to base your policy and non-intervention on the belief that somehow a former secretary general of the United Nations' mission would succeed, when it was clear that the Syrian people were not going to be satisfied with the continuous barbarous regime of Bashar [Assad]?"
Call for rebel 'sanctuary'
Like the White House, McCain too slammed Russia and China for refusing to support the UN Security Council resolutions, but he said Washington must no longer be naive about the conflict, and further "failure of leadership" will cost lives.
For months, McCain has advocated arming the Syrian opposition forces, and he applauded Obama's reported signing on Wednesday of a covert document authorising US support for the rebels.
But Washington must do more, the senator said, including helping set up a "sanctuary" where rebels can train and build an opposition government.
"Why doesn't the president of the United States speak up for them? I've never understood that," he said.
"If we continue on this path of inaction, mass atrocities will continue to unfold in Aleppo and other places in Syria. We have the power to prevent this needless death, and advance our strategic interests in the Middle East at the same time."