McCaul: Overthrow Assad to Attack the Islamic State

GOP rep says Syrian safe haven allows Islamic State to operate with impunity

Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) on Wednesday called for the White House to set up a multinational coalition to oust Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad from power in an attempt to strip the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) of its safe-haven.

"Every day we wait, we cede more ground to our adversaries," McCaul told an audience at the Heritage Foundation. "While terrorists plot inside our communities, murder our people, and seek to divide our nation."

McCaul said Syria is the most immediate tactical target, as the Assad regime provides a safe-haven for IS. He said a coalition of regional allied forces should oust the rogue leader and institute a more moderate government that does not allow terror activity within its borders.

"Today I am calling upon the president to stand up a multinational coalition to build the force needed to clear the terrorist sanctuary in Syria. We need a combined air-and-ground campaign in Syria now, one composed of vetted opposition forces; Western trainers and advisers; special operations forces; and most importantly, regional military partners," he said. "The coalition must also force Assad to step down. We cannot clear the Islamist terror safe haven in Syria anytime soon with the current regime in power."

He also said the battle has an ideological element, and the United States must address that variable by spreading new values and propping up governments in the region that promote democracy and freedom, as opposed to oppression and fear. He said a long-term prevention of terrorist activity is liberty and prosperity.

"The strategy should draw on all elements of American power to promote liberty and human dignity as the great alternatives to repression and terror," McCaul said. "Political and economic development are the only reliable, long-term antidotes to terror, which is why American foreign policy must be geared toward shaping a balance of power in the international system that favors the expansion of free states."

McCaul said American resolve will ultimately lead to victory against the Islamic State, and said we must stand up to the "caliphate."

"And we send a clear message to fanatics: if you try to bring terror to our shores we will bring justice to yours. That is the resolve of the American people, and our resolve will propel us to eventual victory in the war against Islamist terror," he said.