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Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:16 PM

U.S. will increase assistance to Syrian opposition -White House

Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The United States will increase aid to Syrians and the Syrian opposition in an effort to speed a political transition in Syria, a White House spokesman said on Wednesday.

"We are constantly reviewing the nature of the assistance we provide to both the Syrian people, in form of humanitarian assistance, and to the Syrian opposition in the form of non-lethal assistance," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at a briefing.

Washington has sided with the Syrian opposition in seeking the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

"We will continue to provide assistance to the Syrian people, to the Syrian opposition, we will continue to increase our assistance in the effort to bring about a post-Assad Syria," Carney said.

Read more: http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/us-will-increase-assistance-to-syrian-opposition--white-house

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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply U.S. will increase assistance to Syrian opposition -White House (Original post)
Bosonic Feb 2013 OP
Comrade_McKenzie Feb 2013 #1
TwilightGardener Feb 2013 #2
leveymg Feb 2013 #3
TwilightGardener Feb 2013 #4
leveymg Feb 2013 #6
TwilightGardener Feb 2013 #8
leveymg Feb 2013 #10
TwilightGardener Feb 2013 #12
Comrade Grumpy Feb 2013 #7
TwilightGardener Feb 2013 #9
Arctic Dave Feb 2013 #11
TwilightGardener Feb 2013 #13
Comrade Grumpy Feb 2013 #14
leftynyc Feb 2013 #5
rachel1 Feb 2013 #15
leftynyc Feb 2013 #17
pampango Feb 2013 #18
rachel1 Feb 2013 #19
Alamuti Lotus Feb 2013 #16

Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:18 PM

1. Good. This is becoming too long and drawn out. nt

 

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:34 PM

2. Still not quite arming them, and they'd already announced more

monetary aid a few weeks ago, so I'm OK with it.

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:54 PM

3. Most of this buildup looks like it will go to "good" Salafis who will soon be fighting the "bad"

Salafi militias for control over most of Syria. That will be, in effect, a proxy war between the US and the Saudis that's sure to have its own share of "unforeseeable" blowback and costs.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:12 PM

4. I don't know, maybe it's also a message being sent to Assad

(and those countries backing him) that we will help make his fight harder and more drawn out, so better start negotiating? Seems like that's one positive thing that could come out of this. In other words, we're going to start stepping up the game.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:22 PM

6. It looks like a way of trying to entice part of the Opposition to fly from Rome to Moscow for talks.

The opposition is about to disintegrate into warring factions, and those who make the trip will at least be able to appeal to the CIA for help.

G-d help the people of Syria.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:38 PM

8. I don't really know what our goals are otherwise--

we're still deciding which faction is the most politically acceptable to our (or Israeli/neighboring) interests? Are we figuring out which faction will ultimately prevail and trying to prop it up, with the thinking that almost any group other than outright terrorists is better than Assad? Or do we just want to ultimately force Assad to stop being a murderous dick, rather than instigating complete overthrow, with the thinking that the "devil you know", etc. No matter how this ends, it seems pretty safe right now to offer non-lethal aid (especially since they're being furnished weapons from other places) and press for a political solution.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 03:37 PM

10. The uprisings in Libya and Syria started within a few days of each other after exile groups

in western countries and the Sunni clerics called for "days of rage." The center of exile activity was in Paris and London, and the initial impetus appears to have sprung from there, with the Saudis and GCC later providing most of the guns and money that went to the foreign fighters. Many of the events in Benghazi, Libya and Dara'a, Syria that resulted in the initial armed clashes with the regimes followed a similar pattern. Whether those nearly simultaneous events occurred by coincidence or by design is for history to tell. Even if this was initially cooked up in Langley (or by MI6, or the DSGE), it appears that others quickly took the lead on the ground.

The uprisings in Libya and Syria unfolded along lines of ethnic difference in both countries. But, they developed very differently, with Ghadaffi's core of support folding relatively quickly. On Syria, on the other hand, the recent history of deep and bloody Shi'ia-Sunni conflict became the overriding factor that the Ba'ath regime in Damascus held together and the expected coup or regime disintegration didn't occur. The ruling Alawite, which are only about 12% of the Syrian population, knew that if they lost control of the Syrian state and military, they would be exterminated. The slightly smaller Christian population also realized the danger of a Sunni takeover. The terrorist bombings carried out under the black flag by al-Qaeda linked groups helped to underline that shared vulnerability. I think the religious conflict was misunderstood and under-appreciated in Washington, Paris and London, and there really is no way to overcome it, short of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

So, we find ourselves in a bloody stalemate in a Jihad war that's primarily being fueled by the Saudis, Qatar the UAE, and Turkey. The conflict has already metasticized and it's only a matter of time before a full-scale Sunni-Shi'ia regional war breaks out, if the present course continues. I think the plan now is to negotiate a settlement whereby the Alawite/Christian minorities are guaranteed safety in the major cities they now control along the central coast nearest Lebanon, while the Saudi/GCC and Turkish-backed Salafist militias will stay in place and control northern Syria. There seems to be some notion that the "good" Jihadi groups -- those that utter some sort willingness to cooperate with the west -- will be armed and given the area in the South along the borders with Israel and Jordan, where the armed uprising began.

I don't know whether this is a workable arrangement, and it doesn't seem to me to be much real prospect for a sustainable "peace". In the longer term, the thinking seems to be to contain a divided and feuding Syria, following along the Beirut model. The Israelis will likely take a more assertive role as the Syrian military is degraded, and we have already seen the beginnings of that.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 04:08 PM

12. Well, thank you for your informative post, you have a much more

thorough understanding of it all than I do (I've only recently been paying more attention).

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:25 PM

7. Two things:

1. The Assad regime has made repeated calls for negotiations. (The degree of good faith involved is debatable, but they have made the calls.)

2. Who are "we" to "step up the game?" Syria is a sovereign nation. Why do we think we have any right to unilaterally intervene? And what exactly does "step up the game" imply? It sounds like a nice euphemism for ratcheting up the civil war. How many hundreds of thousands of Syrians must die before we can declare victory? And what is that going to look like?

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:44 PM

9. See above--I don't think we should really get involved in their civil war, either--

and I don't really understand what Obama/Kerry expect or want to come out of the whole thing (although they make it pretty clear publicly they want Assad gone). But offering non-arms aid seems like a way to put pressure on Assad to relent, without the blowback risk being tied to the Obama administration as previously in places like Mali. Just a way to press for the outcome we want without getting too involved in the actual fighting.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 03:50 PM

11. Dude, we are involved already.

 

We have more then just talked about an overthrow of a government, we are actively helping to overthrow it.


This is just the next phase of the PNAC plan and Obama is no less on board for then all the bushies.

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Response to Arctic Dave (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 04:13 PM

13. No, I have to dispute that. Obama has switched out his national security team

(well, except for Brennan) and he is not putting in place more hawks and neocons. I think the conventional wisdom is still VERY strongly neocon/PNAC in origin, and that's enforced daily in media like the Washington Post, but he is showing some resistance to that--otherwise he would have gone the Petraeus/Clinton/Panetta route and armed the rebels last summer. Rice and Biden were doubtful, and he listened to them. He's been showing restraint with the Syrian mess thus far. Just FYI, I'm female.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #13)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 04:37 PM

14. We are already providing humanitarian and "non-lethal" assistance.

I think Kerry said today he was thinking about adding body armor and armored personnel carriers. We are already on the slippery slope, and that's just overtly. Who knows what we're doing covertly? We'll probably read about that in a few years.

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:12 PM

5. Bad idea

We should stay completely out of that clusterfuck.

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Response to leftynyc (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:38 PM

15. Exactly! I really have to wonder if ANY lawmaker learned the mistakes of aiding mujahideen during

the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

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Response to rachel1 (Reply #15)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 05:20 AM

17. Certainly doesn't seem that way

Forget for a moment that it will help nothing and we have no way of knowing who actually will be using whatever non-lethal aid we send. This is hardly the way we can prove that getting involved in areas we don't understand is a very bad idea. I met a Syrian Christian last summer in Europe whose family had already fled to Lebanon...she explained that while Assad is a real shit, he was protective over religious minorities. Her family (and many others) knew the people fighting for power would be of the fundamentalist arm of Islam and her family would most likely be killed. The Christian community in Iraq has been decimated.

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Response to rachel1 (Reply #15)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 08:11 AM

18. Obama/Kerry are trying to 'blunt the power of extremist groups'.

One major goal of the administration is to help the opposition build up its credibility within Syria by providing traditional government services to the civilian population. Since the conflict erupted two years ago, the United States has sent $365 million in humanitarian aid to Syrians. American officials have been increasingly worried that extremist members of the resistance against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, notably the Al Nusra Front, which the United States has asserted is affiliated with Al Qaeda, will take control of portions of Syria and cement its authority by providing public services, much as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon.

To blunt the power of extremist groups, the United States wants to help the Syrian Opposition Council, the coalition of Syrian resistance leaders it backs and helped organize, deliver basic services in areas that have been wrested from the control of the Assad government.

What remains off the table, at least as far as the White House is concerned, are weapons.
President Obama last year rejected a proposal by the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the Pentagon to arm a select cadre of rebels. American officials indicated Wednesday that the White House was still opposed to providing weapons.

Another major goal in providing assistance is to jump-start negotiations over a political transition by sending a message to Mr. Assad that the rebels would ultimately prevail on the ground. “He needs to know that he can’t shoot his way out of this,” Mr. Kerry said of Mr. Assad.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/world/middleeast/us-expands-aid-to-syrian-rebels.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

I think both Obama and Kerry understand the trickiness of helping one wing of the Syrian opposition while trying to weaken another wing. They know exactly what happened in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Soviet invasion. The longer the civil war lasts the stronger the 'jihadist' wing of the opposition becomes. I imagine that Obama and Kerry are searching for a way to keep this from happening.

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Response to pampango (Reply #18)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 07:35 PM

19. Sure, and Raygun was trying to blunt the power of the Soviet Union when supplied the mujahideen with

weapons and military knowledge.

It all turned out very well.

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:06 PM

16. not that long ago, the US would invade any country that supported "terrorism"

 

...now they're leading the charge. Such behavior is not without consequence.

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