Despite reports to the contrary, John McCain continues to assert his belief that the vast majority of rebels fighting in Syria are not radicalized Muslim combatants. According to the (very) senior Senator from Arizona, defense consulting firm IHS Jane was incorrect in releasing its findings that just three in 10 are involved in the war for secular reasons.
According to the report, rebel forces are “dominated by groups with at least an Islamist viewpoint of the conflict.”
When asked for a response in front of the Council on Foreign Relations, McCain shouted, “Not true! Not true!”
He continued by suggesting that the reality in Syria is the exact opposite of the firm’s research, claiming “about 70 percent” of rebels “are Free Syrian Army.”
McCain contended that, because “Syria is a moderate nation,” its people “are not going to submit to a jihadis or al-Qaida group governing them.”
The entire basis for his contention seems to be based on a cursory visit to the troubled country.
“I know who they are,” he explained. “I was in Syria and I met them.”
It is apparently inconceivable for a radical movement to put on a moderate face for the arrival of McCain — a man who wants America to provide them with free weapons.
Contradicting his previous statements, though, he later admitted that “safe havens for thousands of extremists” exist within the nation.
McCain made it clear he favors significant weapons transfers to “moderate opposition forces” and criticized the Obama administration only insofar as it has not acted quickly enough. Recent reports, however, indicate that this slow pace might soon speed up dramatically. Earlier this week, Barack Obama sidestepped federal restrictions on assisting terrorist groups, a decision that could mean that even the fighters with al-Qaida ties will be receiving American weaponry.
The move should delight McCain, who apparently believes that his unofficial title of “maverick” means continually residing on the wrong side of history.