'This Week' Transcript: Two Powerhouse Roundtables

ENGEL: I think it is the choice. And I will be introducing legislation to allow the president to arm the rebels. I think it's time to do that. I think the Free Syrian Army needs help. We know who they are. And I think it's time that we make that move.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I spoke with White House officials about this, and they make two arguments against precipitously arming the rebels. They say, one, you don't want them to have shoulder-fired missiles, because of the threat to commercial aircraft. And two, the argument that the opposition is getting about what it needs right now from the Gulf states.

ENGEL: Well, shoulder-fired weapons, I'm not talking about that, but I certainly think that there are other things that we can get to them.

It's never the right time. It's -- there is always a time that could be better. But I think we run the risk of seeing Assad hang on for a long time. He's a bad player. You know, back in 1979, when his father was in power, the State Department promulgated a list of countries which aid and abet terrorism. Syria was a chartered member of that list. In 2004, I wrote the Syria Accountability Act, which slapped sanctions on Syria, passed the Congress and the Senate, signed into law by President Bush. Nothing has changed in Syria. This has been a regime that governs with an iron fist. They have murdered tens of thousands of their own people. There's almost a million people displaced. It has the potential to disrupt other countries like Jordan all around, and I think it's time that the United States take a firm stand by arming the rebels.


ROGERS: Listen, the best we can hope for now is the best of the worst outcomes. So, the United States doesn't have credibility with the opposition now. So, any diplomatic negotiated settlement here, the United States can't play an important role, because they don't have the faith and confidence of the opposition. Clearly, Russia is playing a game here that could be helpful. I do agree we ought to engage them.

Here's what I think we should do. I think we need to, right now, the Qataris, the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Turks are all putting weapons systems into Syria to aid the opposition. The Islamists have attached themselves to most of the secular units. Almost every unit now has Islamists as some of their main fighters. They are well financed, they will fight to the death. And opposition planners (ph) tell us that they need them and count on them for the fight. That's a huge problem for the United States. We have all of those weapons systems, including conventional weapons, that will awash the Levant, across the Middle East, if we don't get this right. It's time that we take a more affirmative leadership role at this table, with all of the Arab League. I would have a no-fly zone in the north, a safe zone in the north, and coordinate all of the weapons systems that are going in so that at least we have the credibility for a negotiated settlement. We don't have that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman, talks about credibility is Secretary Kerry, going over this week to the Middle East, but will not be meeting with the opposition.

AMANPOUR: That's absolutely true. In Rome, where they were meant to be meeting, the opposition is actually boycotting because of what they say is an unacceptable U.S. and international response to the Syria.

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