Amid pressure for the United States and other western countries to intervene in Syria’s bloody 14-month uprising, Florida Congressman and retired U.S. Army officer Allen West warns in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV that the troubled nation represents a smoldering powder keg that could trigger World War III.
International outrage over Syria has continued to mount since forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were blamed for last week’s massacre in the town of Houla, which resulted in the deaths of 108 people, including many women, children, and families — most of whom had been shot at close range.
West said that Assad’s father, Hafez, who ruled the country for decades before his son took power in 2000 upon his death, had been blamed for a similar massacre in another Syrian town.
“That’s how they do business, and so if we’re going to go in there, we need to go in with very clear rules of engagement if we’re going to get Bashar al-Assad out of there,” warned West, who had been posted in several combat zones. “But understand, you’ll be starting World War III.”
While diplomatic sanctions do not appear to be effective, there is also not a clear alternative to Assad’s government. The Syrian freedom fighters are widely considered by Middle East experts to be fractured and disorganized.
“On one side you have the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Russia and also Bashar al-Assad,” West explained. “On the other side, you have freedom fighters. You have al-Qaida and radical Islamists. And also you have the backing of the state of Turkey.”
He pointed to recent experiences with Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood, is now threatening to bring Sharia law to the country, and Libya, which has been plunged into chaos since the death of dictator Moammar Gadhafi late last year.
“If you start to interject yourself in a means other than diplomatic who’s side are you on? We don’t need to put our military in a situation where they’re caught in a cross-fire,” insisted West.
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney favors arming the rebel forces while Arizona Sen. John McCain, the party’s 2008 nominee, would like the U.S. to conduct air strikes against Assad’s forces.
“I think that we should be listening to our greatest ally in the Middle East — Israel — as far as what are their concerns, and what would they like to see happen because they share that border with Syria,” said West.
While he does not favor military intervention in Syria — at least not for the time being — West said that time may be running out to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons in the region’s other hot spot.
“The longer we allow them to have time, it works on their side, not ours,” he explained. “They continue to go forward with their nuclear program. They continue to harden the facilities, which . . . can protect their nuclear program.”
The Congressman, who was elected in 2010, and is a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, said that the U.S. will be forced to act at some point to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.