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Pittenger leaning against Syria attack

Rubio vs. Pittenger
T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com
Robert Pittenger

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger said Thursday that he shares the fears of Mideast leaders he has met with on a congressional fact-finding tour: That a U.S. attack on Syria could further destabilize the region.

The Charlotte Republican said he’s leaning toward voting against a White House-backed resolution authorizing the use of military force against Syria.

“I’m certainly not inclined to think it’s the right thing to do at this time,” Pittenger said in a phone interview from Cairo. “I have real strong reservations about the action because of the outcome of what could happen as a result.”

Pittenger’s vote could mean trouble for the Obama administration and its push for congressional approval of its plans.

On Thursday the Washington Post published a tally of 301 House members (out of 435) who have publicly announced their positions. Of those, 179 oppose the measure or lean against it.

Only 19 support military action while 103 were undecided. Passage requires 217 votes.

Pittenger was not included in the Post count.

The Republican congressman, who chairs the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, has been part of an eight-person tour that’s visited Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. They were scheduled to leave Cairo Thursday for NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Pittenger said the foreign leaders he’s met with worry about poison gas or other weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists should the Syrian government collapse.

“It seems to me our focus should be on this major issue of who owns these weapons of mass destruction after the war is over,” Pittenger said.

Pittenger met Thursday with the interim Egyptian president Adly Mansour. He said the president told the Americans that the country is moving towards democratic elections after the army ousted former President Mohamed Morsi in July.

“I was encouraged by the thoughtful approach I sensed from the interim president,” said Pittenger.

“They love America. They love our values. They want to replicate our values. They don’t want a country hijacked by an Islamic terrorist group.”

Morrill: 704-358-5059
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