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Florida Delegation Weighs in on Military Options in Iraq

June 17, 2014 - 6:00pm
As the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces continue to gain momentum in Iraq and President Barack Obama plans to send 275 troops to defend the American embassy in Baghdad, members of the Florida congressional delegation are starting to weigh in on the matter.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is backing Obamas plan to rely on more troops to defend the embassy.

Were sending an additional 275 troops to Baghdad to protect our embassy, Nelson said on Tuesday. Thats a good thing.

Nelson also backed an increased naval buildup in the area in case the situation deteriorates.

Were going to send a carrier and an amphibious transport ship into the Persian Gulf in case we have to evacuate those Americans, Nelson said. And in the meantime, were going to try to work with our allies to stop the sectarian violence thats about to blow Iraq apart.

Asked about Iraq on Jimmy Cafalos radio show on 610 WIOD in Miami on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called for using air power to hamper ISIL.

The primary issue is that the reason why 9/11 happened was because al-Qaida was able to use Afghanistan as a safe haven, where they were untouchable, Rubio said. And from there, they plotted these attacks and carried them out. What we never want to see happen again is the emergence of another safe haven anywhere in the world because we know that what they want to do from those safe havens is attack us. Theyre planning to do that now if they had a safe haven to do it, it would only accelerate that.

And thats whats happening here in Iraq, Rubio insisted. This group used to be part of al-Qaida. Theyre actually in dispute with al-Qaida because al-Qaida as brutal and ugly as al-Qaida is they actually have cut ties with this group because this group is brutal to Muslims, and al-Qaida thinks thats counterproductive. So theyre actually, in some instances, even more brutal than al-Qaida has been.

And so this ISIL group is an extremely dangerous group, Rubio added. They have now established, or are on the verge of establishing, a safe haven in both areas that encompass both Syria and Iraq. And I think what we need to do is we should target in any way possible, through the air and any other means available to us the supply routes that are allowing them to carry out this advance. And those supply routes are coming out of eastern Syria and transversing into western and northwestern Iraq. And we should be targeting those supply routes to cut these guys off from making any further advances.

But not every member of the Florida delegation is ready for renewed American military activity in Iraq. U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., is backing a No New War petition against more military operations in Iraq.

Its our blood, and its our money, so it should be our decision, Grayson insisted on Monday.

Grayson is not the only Florida congressman expressing reservations about American military operations in Iraq. Freshman U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., spoke on the matter on Monday and, according to Creative Loafing, says troops should only be used to protect American lives in Iraq.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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