AIPAC to go all-out on Syria

By on September 6, 2013
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The powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC is planning to launch a major lobbying campaign to push wayward lawmakers to back the resolution authorizing U.S. strikes against Syria, sources said Thursday.

Officials say that some 250 Jewish leaders and AIPAC activists will storm the halls on Capitol Hill beginning next week to persuade lawmakers that Congress must adopt the resolution or risk emboldening Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon. They are expected to lobby virtually every member of Congress, arguing that “barbarism” by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated, and that failing to act would “send a message” to Tehran that the U.S. won’t stand up to hostile countries’ efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, according to a source with the group.

“History tells us that ambiguity [in U.S. actions] invites aggression,” said the AIPAC source who asked not to be named. The source added the group will now be engaged in a “major mobilization” over the issue.

Despite the group’s political muscle, it often doesn’t get involved in congressional fights over authorizing military action, and it had been mum about intervening in Syria as recently as last week.

But the stepped-up involvement comes at a welcome time for the White House, which is struggling to muster the votes in both chambers for a resolution that would give President Barack Obama the authority to engage in “limited” military action in Syria for 60 days, with one 30-day extension possible. The hawkish group also has ties to many Republicans, including ones who have been critical of the Obama administration’s handling of U.S.-Israeli affairs.

The top two Senate GOP leaders — Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas — both have already been urged by top Jewish donors and AIPAC allies to back the Syria resolution, sources say. Unlike their House GOP counterparts who endorsed the measure, McConnell and Cornyn have withheld their support.

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