The powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC is planning to launch a major lobbying campaign to push disobedient lawmakers to back the resolution authorizing a US strike against Syria, sources say.
Officials said on Thursday 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.
They are expected to lobby virtually every member of Congress, arguing that the alleged chemical attack in Syria cannot be tolerated, and that failing to act would “send a message” to other parties that the US won’t stand up to hostile countries’ efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, according to a source with the Jewish group.
“History tells us that ambiguity [in US 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.
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 with many Republicans, including ones who have been critical of the Obama administration’s handling of US-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. A Cornyn aide said Thursday that the senator currently opposes the Syria resolution, which will be debated on the Senate floor next week.
The call for military action against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the Syrian government of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21, which killed hundreds of Syrians.
The Syrian government has repeatedly said the deadly attack was a false-flag operation carried out by the militants in a bid to draw in foreign military intervention.