What is going on here – who does McCain think he is – who is he meeting with? Who is he upstaging? Was this appropriate?
The Horn News
McCain makes secret trip to Syria
February 23, 2017
Arizona Sen. John McCain, an establishment Republican that is one of President Donald Trump’s harshest critics, made a secret trip to northern Syria to visit U.S. forces stationed there and discuss the campaign for defeating the Islamic State extremists, his office said Wednesday.
The Arizona Republican’s visit to the war-torn country occurred as a major battle nears to oust the militants from Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate. A statement from the senator’s office did not give the dates of his travel, saying only that he made the visit last week.
“Senator McCain’s visit was a valuable opportunity to assess dynamic conditions on the ground in Syria and Iraq,” the statement reads. It says the president “has rightly ordered a review of U.S. strategy and plans to defeat” the Islamic State group and McCain looks forward to working with the administration and military leaders “to optimize our approach.”
McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has voiced escalating concerns with Trump. He was recently criticized by the president’s supports for declaring the Trump administration in disarray and expressed concern over how national security decisions are being handled.
However, McCain on Monday welcomed Trump’s selection of Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be his national security adviser, calling the pick an “outstanding choice.”
McCain also quietly traveled to Syria in 2013 to meet with rebels fighting President Bashar Assad’s forces. That visit took place amid meetings in Paris involving efforts to secure participation of Syria’s fractured opposition in an international peace conference in Geneva.
It’s unusual, however, for members of Congress to visit Syria, which has no diplomatic relations with the United States. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, generated a backlash when she visited Syria in January and met with Assad.
But Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Gabbard gave Assad credibility by meeting with him.
Lawmakers have accused the Assad government of war crimes and even genocide as the number of people killed during the violence in Syria continues to mount. The war, now in its sixth year, has killed hundreds of thousands of people, contributed to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II and given the Islamic State group room to grow into a global terror threat.
Is this appropriate for these people to make these trips on their own?
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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Thursday February 23, 2017
McCain Discusses Plans to Defeat ISIS in Secret Syria Visit
By Cathy Burke
22 Feb 2017 06:18 PM
Sen. John McCain made a secret trip to the Kurdish-held region of northern Syria to visit U.S. forces last weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported.
A spokeswoman for the Arizona Republican, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, confirmed in a statement Wednesday that McCain had spoken with U.S. forces to discuss plans for defeating ISIS and pushing them out of Raqqa.
She described the visit as a “valuable opportunity to assess dynamic conditions on the group in Iraq and Syria.” McCain did not announce the trip in advance.
McCain has been one of President Donald Trump’s sharpest GOP critics in the Senate, declaring his administration is in disarray. But his spokeswoman’s statement said the president “has rightly ordered a review of U.S. strategy and plans to defeat” ISIS.
Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported the Obama administration had devised a plan to oust ISIS from Raqqa, which included arming Syrian Kurdish forces. Trump’s administration, when it came into power, believed the plan had “huge gaps in it,” an unnamed source told the newspaper.
The Pentagon on Tuesday said next week it would send the White House a strategy to defeat ISIS.
“It will address ISIS globally, and it is not just a [Department of Defense] plan,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, the Pentagon spokesman. “We’re charged with leading the development of the plan, but it absolutely calls upon the capabilities of other departments.”
The Hill noted lawmakers do not often travel to Syria, where civil war as raged since 2011.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said last month she met with Assad during her own secret trip to the war-torn country.