Republican nominee Mitt Romney today accused President Obama of “passive” leadership in the Middle East in a foreign-policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute. He called for more direct intervention in Syria, including making sure anti-government opposition forces have weapons. He also said he will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran.
On Syria, Romney called for the United States to help arm the Syrian opposition. “In Syria, I’ll work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and then ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets,” Romney said.
Romney has previously said the U.S. needs to “be ready to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that we do not have– any kind of weapon of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists,” but had not yet said so specifically that he would help the opposition fighters obtain weapons.
The Obama administration is providing non-lethal aid such as intelligence, and The New York Times reported that the CIA is helping allies make sure they are sending arms to fighters who are not terrorists.
“I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I’ll restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf –and I’ll work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination,” Romney said.
The Obama administration has imposed unilateral financial and energy sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, in addition to four sets of sanctions imposed by the United Nations since 2006. The sanctions are partially responsible for the Iranian currency dropping by almost 40 percent in value in the past week and are having “significant” effects on the Iranian people, according to United Nations chief Ban Ki Moon.
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