U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement regarding President Obama's recognition of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"President Obama's recognition of the Syrian opposition coalition, coming right after the State Department's designation of another Syrian rebel group as a foreign organization with ties to al-Qaeda, is a stark reminder of the need to learn from the lessons of past conflicts. To ensure that mistakes are not repeated, proper oversight and due diligence must be undertaken so that pro-democracy, pro-human rights groups are empowered in Syria, not extremists who may be involved or affiliated with the opposition.
"We need to be asking a lot questions: Who exactly are the rebel groups, particularly those with the most influence at the national and local levels? Do they have extremist ties? Are they connected to any designated foreign terrorist organizations? In terms of the bigger picture, what is the overall U.S. strategy and how does the Administration's recent steps advance that plan? Is this action by the Administration going to be accompanied by other measures to advance our interests or further stability in the region by strengthening pro-democracy, pro-freedom opposition groups?
"With coalitions in Syria growing and changing rapidly, we need to ensure that we are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that our efforts advance both our short and long-term interests and will not backfire at cost to our national security."