Video: US considering direct aid to Syrian rebels?

posted at 11:21 am on February 27, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Has the Obama administration decided to intervene in Syria? CBS News reports that the White House is now floating trial balloons about providing direct aid to the rebels fighting the Bashar Assad regime — “non-lethal” aid, but aid nonetheless. Even non-lethal aid allows the rebels to use other resources to improve their arms capability, and American assistance would give them a boost in prestige with other Western nations. And if any of this sounds familiar, it just means you didn’t sleep through the US-European intervention in Libya almost two years ago:

John Kerry made this a little more plain earlier today, in case that trial balloon was too subtle. Appearing in Paris with France’s foreign minister, Kerry made an explicit appeal for Western intervention:

Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. and its allies want to raise support for Syria’s opposition to help speed President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster.

Assad “needs to know he can’t shoot his way out of this,” Kerry said about the Syria conflict at a press conference today in Paris with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. “And I think the opposition needs more help in order to convince him.”

Kerry said the U.S. and its allies are working together to forge a unified position on Assad’s exit from power. The U.S. chief diplomat is due to attend an international meeting in Rome tomorrow with members of the Syrian opposition. Kerry, on stops in Berlin yesterday and in London on Feb. 25, said the U.S. is considering a policy shift on Syria if Assad won’t join talks.

Remind me again how well these 30,000-foot interventions worked out in Egypt and Libya.  In the former, we ended up assisting the Muslim Brotherhood’s ascent to power in place of a dictator who at least kept the peace with Israel.  In the latter, we decapitated the Qaddafi regime and turned Libya into a failed state run by terrorist networks, and ended up getting chased out of Benghazi along with every other Western government that helped overthrow Qaddafi’s clique.

Will it be any different in Syria?  Just a couple of months ago, the Obama administration named the core of the Syrian resistance a terrorist network with ties to al-Qaeda. In fact, many of their fighters come from … eastern Libya, where we helpfully provided those terrorist networks with plenty of breathing space to organize. Why would we want to extend that free space into Syria?

While you ponder that question, consider this Washington Post update on Hezbollah, which gets support from Assad and from Iran, which we’ve offered bilateral talks.  If you’re wondering what they’re up to these days, it’s not diplomacy:

The Israeli tourists on Arkia Airlines Flight 161 from Tel Aviv could not have known it, but their arrival in Cyprus July 6 was watched closely. A pair of trained eyes counted each passenger as the group exited the plane and boarded a shuttle, headed for resorts that had also been carefully studied and mapped.

The bearded foreigner who silently tracked the Israelis had done his work well. He knew where the visitors would sleep, shop and eat. He knew how many security guards patrolled their hotel parking lots and how long it would take police to arrive from the station down the street.

But the watcher was being watched. When Cypriot police picked him up, the Hezbollah operative quickly acknowledged what he was doing, although he claimed not to know why.

“I was just collecting information about the Jews,” he told police, according to a sworn deposition. “This is what my organization is doing, everywhere in the world.”

That prompts this question: does Assad’s fall hurt Hezbollah?  Or will a new power structure aligned with AQ in Syria strengthen Hezbollah’s efforts?  If you can’t answer that question, at least we should agree that the US should know the answer before deciding to intervene on anyone’s behalf in yet another “Arab Spring” country.

Update: Perhaps in the short run, it’s not so good for Hezbollah after all (via Israel Matzav):

Russia Today on Wednesday cited Hezbollah sources as denying rebel claims that party deputy chief Naim Qassem had been seriously injured or killed in an attack on a convoy Tuesday in Syria.

Syria rebels had posted on Twitter that Qassem had been targeted in an attack on a convoy that killed Syrian regime general Mohammad Ali Durgham.

The sources told Russia Today that they expect Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah would tackle the “false rumors” in the speech he is set to give Wednesday evening.

But

Lebanese newspaper al-Mustaqbal quoted the Syrian rebels as saying mines placed on the Beirut-Damascus highway had detonated as the convoy returned from a high-level security meeting in Lebanon. The explosion reportedly took place near the town of Jdeidet Yabous near the Lebanon-Syria border.

The al-Mustaqbal report made no mention of Qassem being killed in the attack, saying that he had merely been injured.


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Hey, sure….perfect customers for surplus weapons from downsizing our military.

hawkeye54 on February 27, 2013 at 11:27 AM

So?

The Senate Republicans (so-called) want to cede constitutional power to Obama to have total control over spending…

Why shouldn’t he fund terrorists directly? Our polit-bureau thinks he’s certainly trustworthy to decide how to spend money without oversight.

Skywise on February 27, 2013 at 11:29 AM

That prompts this question: does Assad’s fall hurt Hezbollah? Or will a new power structure aligned with AQ in Syria strengthen Hezbollah’s efforts? If you can’t answer that question, at least we should agree that the US should know the answer before deciding to intervene on anyone’s behalf in yet another “Arab Spring” country.

Of course it should be answered…

I don’t know how Kerry et al will handle this…

Personally I don’t think it is a good idea to provide support.

The more ‘we’ do, the less we get and the stronger the MB gets.

Muslims have fought not only Christians the world over for over 1000 years, but they have fought each other.

Let them get on with it, without any aid from us.

Scrumpy on February 27, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Didn’t the Vietnam War start out much the same way? If Afghanistan is the ‘good war’, how long until Syria becomes the ‘better war’ if we get involved on one side or the other in their civil war?

We hear the trolls all the time here griping about American interventionism. What the devil is this, then?

Liam on February 27, 2013 at 11:31 AM

So now we support Al-Queda? When do I put the Burka on my wife?

Oil Can on February 27, 2013 at 11:35 AM

At first I blamed naiveté and incompetence, but now it all seems quite purposeful.

myrenovations on February 27, 2013 at 11:35 AM

I am sure we are in the very best of hands on these decisions with Secretaries Kerry and Hagel. Hold on tight, Folks, it’s going to be a fun four years.

Cindy Munford on February 27, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Another piece in the 21st century caliphate.

bw222 on February 27, 2013 at 11:40 AM

I thought this was what Benghazi was all about..?

d1carter on February 27, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Video: US considering direct aid to Syrian rebels?

They’re letting illegals go because of delusional budget shortfalls and not deploying an aircraft carrier to the gulf because of the same transparent lie … but they have money to back the al quaeda rebels in Syria??

Impeachment should have happened 4 years ago, and every month since then, but this is beyond ridiculous.

When will Nature rid me of this 84 IQ dog-eating America-hating traitor? I know the cowardly GOP won’t do it, the spineless, gutless pieces OS …

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 27, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Video: US considering direct aid to Syrian rebels?

Absolutely phucking brilliant idea… Russia is publicly and prominently backing the Assad Regime, what could possibly go wrong by having the United States take the exact same stance regarding the Syrian (read Muslim Brotherhood/Al Qaeda here) insurgents.

One can only conclude that someone either in the Whitehouse or over at Foggy Bottom is actively attempting to either re start the Cold War, or start a genuine Hot war with Russia. Obama the great Destroyer? yea, the phrase has more than a mere ring of truth to it.

SWalker on February 27, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Kerry should just give ass-ad a double barrel shotgun and let him fire off a couple of blasts into the air, that should get the bad guys to go away.

VegasRick on February 27, 2013 at 11:46 AM

It’s looking more and more like Obama’s strategy in the Middle East is chaos. Ismlamist chaos.

Fenris on February 27, 2013 at 11:47 AM

One can only conclude that someone either in the Whitehouse or over at Foggy Bottom is actively attempting to either re start the Cold War, or start a genuine Hot war with Russia.

SWalker on February 27, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Someone hit Shrillary’s OVERCHARGED (i.e. about to blow) button “by mistake”.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 27, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Off topic but geeze louise: is ‘t it time to start openily discussing impeachment:

Release of 600 illegals
Decision to not deploy carrier to Persian gulf

Because of Sequester. What the hell is going on in this establishment?

can_con on February 27, 2013 at 11:48 AM

as the Obama administration decided to intervene in Syria? CBS News reports that the White House is now floating trial balloons about providing direct aid to the rebels fighting the Bashar Assad regime — “non-lethal” aid, but aid nonetheless.
=========================================

Slow incremental Liberal Mission creepeth,
or not!
(sarc0

canopfor on February 27, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Reuters Top News ‏@Reuters

White House spokesman: U.S. will increase assistance to Syrian people in effort to achieve transition to post-Assad regime #breaking

canopfor on February 27, 2013 at 11:50 AM

That prompts this question: does Assad’s fall hurt Hezbollah?

Genuinely stupid question Ed, how about asking the only damned question that counts here. How is Putin likely to react to having the US depose his Syrian Puppet, will he retaliate or not, and if so, what form will that retaliation take? Will it be the pu$$y a$$ cyber hacking path of the Chinese, or will it involve bombs guns tanks ships and nuclear armed ICBM’s?

SWalker on February 27, 2013 at 11:52 AM

The Associated Press ‏@AP

Kerry says U.S. is looking for ways to support Syria’s rebels and bolster a fledgling political movement: http://apne.ws/YzINLy -MM
=================================================================

Feb 27 2013
11:05AM

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/kerry-france-looks-next-steps-syria

canopfor on February 27, 2013 at 11:53 AM

The Nobel Peace Prize winning preezy may get us involved in another conflict????

I am shocked… Shocked, I say!

UltimateBob on February 27, 2013 at 11:56 AM

The Islamic States of America……….get ready for it.

With the gop leaders completely traitorous in failing to oppose this President how long will it be?

PappyD61 on February 27, 2013 at 11:57 AM

gop……dead

Democrats………Communists

Outlook for America………

PappyD61 on February 27, 2013 at 11:58 AM

gop……dead

Democrats………Communists

Outlook for America………

PappyD61 on February 27, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Already dead. We live in the American Socialist Superstate. The only reasonable move from here is a national divorce. Time to split up like Czechoslovakia. The left can have the hell they’ve created and the Vichy Right can stay there with them. It’s time to re-establish a nation with American principles, which the A.S.S. is most certainly not.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 27, 2013 at 12:02 PM

The Nobel Peace Prize winning preezy may get us involved in another conflict????

I am shocked… Shocked, I say!

UltimateBob on February 27, 2013 at 11:56 AM

No, he’ll just stir the pot then disclaim responsibility.

Fenris on February 27, 2013 at 12:03 PM

” “We appeal to the whole world to stop arms from being sent to Syria”. So said a statement made by the Greek Catholic Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham following a spate of explosions in a district of Damascus on February 23.

The statement also recalled that on on February 21, there were three successive explosions in the Mazraa district of Damascus that left 53 persons dead, 235 wounded and serious material damage “particularly to a school and a hospital.”

“We ask the international community and the most important countries in the world, to support Syrian efforts to promote dialogue, in order to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis ” wrote the Patriarch.

“From the depth of our heart we cry to the conscience of the entire world, to leaders of nations, especially of Arab countries, to international institutions, to peace militants, to His Holiness the Pope and to Bishops’ Conferences throughout the world ” the message continues. “We beg them to listen to our voice and to see the suffering of the Syrian people. No one has the right to exonerate himself or deny his responsibility in the face of these massacres, this destruction and these acts of violence, or in the face of hatred and rancour between sons of the same homeland.”

Gregory III Laham appealed to the United States and Russia to “continue sincere efforts to promote dialogue and reach a political and global solution ” and finally urges “His Holiness, the Pope, and those in positions of responsibility at the Apostolic See of Rome, to launch a diplomatic initiative on behalf of the Catholic Church based on its world wide spiritual influence “….

http://www.speroforum.com/a/WGYSJOXJDK23/73695-Syria-Melkite-patriarch-calls-for-end-to-arms-shipments

workingclass artist on February 27, 2013 at 12:10 PM

. Time to split up like Czechoslovakia.

Actually, I recall reading about a plan years ago to splinter the USA into smaller nations, or fiefdoms, finally eliminating it as a dominant world superpower, making the smaller splinter nations ineffective in international influence.

hawkeye54 on February 27, 2013 at 12:14 PM

The Islamic States of America……….get ready for it.

In the works as we write. It won’t come peacefully.

hawkeye54 on February 27, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Blowback

Gatekeeper on February 27, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Direct aid to the rebels? How’d that work out in Libya, or is it that he seeks the same thing–to elevate the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood/ Hezbollah/Iranian power as the result?

Don L on February 27, 2013 at 12:44 PM

We aided Al-Qaeda-backed Libyan Rebels, & allowed them to seize over 2,500 shoulder-launched rockets (now being found in Egypt & Gaza)…and got in return the 1st dead Ambassador in 30 years & 3 other dead Americans.

We aided the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood take over Egypt, for which we got our Embassy in Cairo overrun/burned….and even though we are over $14.5 TRILLION in debt & Obama is going around scaring the H#LL out of Americans over cutting $83 Billion in/from the amount of the coming INCREASED deficit-spending (Sequestration), our government is about to GIVE the Muslim Brotherhood OVER $2 TRILLION in 20 new F-16 Fighters & 200 Tanks?! (We are giving TERRORISTS $2 Billion in military weapons they can pretty much only use on our ALLY Israel, but we are CHARGING our NON-TERRORIST Ally – the UAE – for drones…make sense?!)

Obama has sent troops into Niger and is openning up drone bases there in order to engage in Drone WARfare – killing Al Qaeda (who we were told is on the run but who are instead GROWING across the globe). If going into Iraq was such a horrible idea because Iraq was not a threat (I would say they were more of a threat than LIBYA was), then why are we sending troops into Niger, Africa to fight an enemy that Obama told us was on the run & no longer a factor?

NOW, Obama, the guy who railed about ‘Bush’s wars’ wants to inject ourselves … and more money we DON’T have… into Syria?!

Under Bush, we were involved in wars in Afghanistan & Iraq. Under Obama, we are/were involved in wars/Ops in Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Niger, & now Syria….

Libs will argue ‘No boots on the ground in Libya’.
1) That is a lie: Spec Ops/Trainers/Advisors were on the ground. We don’t provided aid without having some type of presence on the ground, whether SpecOps, CIA, etc.
2) If we were going to help overthrow Qadaffi we NEEDED (more) boots on the ground because Libya’s huge checm/bio-weapons depot was left unguarded, & more than 2,500 shoulder-launched missiles went missing, now in egypt, Gaza, & probably in Syria & possibly ‘coming to an airport near you’ in the future.

Being trillions in debt, how about we not GIVE terrorists billions of dollars in weapons & overthrow ‘stable’ governments because we want to push OUR idea of Democracy/freedom onto others?! Yes, Syria was under a ‘tyrant’s’ hand/rule, but he kept the peace, protectd all religeons – including Christians, & kept the Terrorists from taking over. Our style of democracy doesn’t work there….as seen by Egyptians now fighting/trying to overthrow the Muslim Brotherhood government, the terrorists we just helped put into office!

easyt65 on February 27, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Is there anyone in Washington that will try to stop this? Where is the GOP? Where is Sanity?

Oil Can on February 27, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Is there anyone in Washington that will try to stop this? Where is the GOP? Where is Sanity?

Sanity deserted DC long ago, replaced by noticeably, and rapidly, growing INsanity.

Real help can only come from outside the swamp.

hawkeye54 on February 27, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Direct aid to the rebels? How’d that work out in Libya, or is it that he seeks the same thing–to elevate the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood/ Hezbollah/Iranian power as the result?

It is all working out, admittedly with a few bumps in the road, as planned for this admin.

hawkeye54 on February 27, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Obama had bin Laden killed because he hates competition.

Ward Cleaver on February 27, 2013 at 1:14 PM

“uh….Mr. President, this is what we invented armed UAVs for…give us the word and we’ll solve this Syria problem in about 30 mins…”

“Get out of my golf cart, and don’t ever presume that I don’t know everything already!”

BobMbx on February 27, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Direct aid to Syrian rebels? I could’ve sworn there was a sequester upcoming wherein nothing can be done anywhere, domestically or internationally, by Obama because… Armageddon. Anyone hear of this “sequester” thing? Frankly, it sounds made up.

AnonymousDrivel on February 27, 2013 at 1:39 PM

The Nobel Peace Prize winning preezy may get us involved in another conflict????

I am shocked… Shocked, I say!

UltimateBob on February 27, 2013 at 11:56 AM

But its a good conflict, and only bad people will die. This is the will of Obama, let it be written, let it be done.

BobMbx on February 27, 2013 at 1:40 PM

This is such a bad idea.

jake49 on February 27, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Heres the Democrat Arm Syria Bill!!

Democrat unveils bill to arm Syrian opposition
By Julian Pecquet – 02/27/13 01:16 PM ET
******************************************

The top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee will introduce legislation this week giving President Obama the power to “provide vetted Syrian opposition members with appropriate lethal military assistance,” according to a summary of the bill obtained by The Hill.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) announced his intention to drop the bill during an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” The bill would also allow the president to provide further non-lethal assistance such as body armor and helmets, create a “Radio Free Syria” and set up a program to “facilitate destruction of Syrian chemical and biological weapons.”

The White House is under growing pressure to arm the rebels following revelations that top administration officials – including former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former CIA director David Petraeus and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey – have supported such a move since last year. The administration has spent almost $400 million in humanitarian aid for Syrians since the civil war started two years ago and is now reportedly weighing sending body armor and other defensive equipment.

“President Assad’s days are numbered and no longer can we watch from the sidelines as Syria goes from bad to worse,” Engel said in a statement Wednesday. “Now is the time to arm friendly rebels and turn the tide to allow for a more hopeful Syrian future. Ridding Syria of Assad will provide a strategic setback to Iran, which uses Syria as a pass-through to prop up their terrorist proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Here’s the summary:

“Free Syria Act of 2013”

The bill contains three main titles:

TITLE I: Humanitarian and Economic Assistance

· Authorizes the President to provide assistance to protect populations affected by the conflict, including women and girls.

· Prohibits assistance to groups that violate the principle of medical neutrality.

· Authorizes an Administration-requested authority to facilitate transfer of funds between accounts to address the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.

· Raises the threshold of funds available to assist refugees.

· Authorizes the President to provide assistance to local coordination committees to meet the humanitarian and governance needs of the Syrian people.

· Authorizes establishment of a “Radio Free Syria”.

· Requires a reworking of US “branding policy” to highlight US assistance efforts while ensuring that implementing partners are not endangered.

TITLE II: Security Assistance

· Authorizes the President to provide vetted Syrian opposition members with appropriate lethal military assistance.

· Authorizes the President to provide vetted Syrian opposition members non-lethal military assistance, such as protective gear (e.g., body armor, helmets), communications equipment, etc.

· Authorizes a program to facilitate destruction of Syrian chemical and biological weapons.

TITLE III: Transition Assistance

· Authorizes the President to provide assistance to support Syria’s transition to peace, democracy, and sustainable development under the appropriate governance conditions. This will be accompanied by an authority for a “Syria Transition Fund” Authorizes the President to undertake a responsible suspension of Syria sanctions if certain conditions are met.

· Authorizes temporary personnel authorities for the State Department to address the situation in Syria.

http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/middle-east-north-africa/285259-democrat-unveils-bill-to-arm-syria

canopfor on February 27, 2013 at 1:48 PM

We helped get rid of the Shah and got mad mullahs in Iran. We got rid of Saddam and Iraq is now allied with mad mullah Iran. We got rid of Gaddafi and we got Benghazi. We helped to get rid of Mubarak and now we have Herr Morsi and the Muslim Nazihood. There is a lesson there that only a potted plant would be oblivious to.

And don’t anyone make me laugh by saying they will vouch for the “Free Syrian Army” as they are a bunch of bloody bastards themselves who, if they take power, will very likely far eclipse Assad in that department.

VorDaj on February 27, 2013 at 2:52 PM

BOTH sides are evil. No aid. Let the b$stards exterminate each other.

annoyinglittletwerp on February 27, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Clearly democrats are still war mongers.

VorDaj on February 27, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Obama obviously hasn’t learned his Libyan lesson–the enemy of our enemy isn’t necessarily our friend. If we take out a strongman, we need to know whom we are helping, and then decide whether the replacement government would be better or worse for American interests than the strongman.

Assad is no choirboy (he was a Baathist ally of Saddam Hussein in Iraq), and he also invaded Lebanon, which had been a relatively peaceful multi-faith country prior to his invasion.

But if Assad’s army is preoccupied with maintaining his own power in Syria against a domestic uprising, it can’t occupy Lebanon, meaning that the power struggle in Syria is the perfect opportunity to liberate Lebanon.

If we had a smart President and Secretary of State, they would probably be meeting with Israel and France (which had strong ties to Lebanon before the Syrian takeover) to force Syrian troops out of Lebanon in order to re-establish democracy there (Lebanon has a strong Christian population, and a significant Jewish population, while Muslims are divided). Israel also would like a free, peaceful Lebanon, so that it would no longer fear rockets being fired from Lebanon.

But, the American voters were not smart enough to elect a smart President, so we will probably replace Assad with another Syrian government even more hostile to Lebanon, Israel, and the United States.

Any American diplomat who thinks we should help the Syrian rebels needs to have a good long talk with Bibi Netanyahu, the real brains behind Smart Power.

Steve Z on February 27, 2013 at 3:44 PM

According to this article, the obama regime is planning a lot more than just “non-lethal aid” for the “rebel” factions…………

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/27/dem-lawmakers-prepare-bill-allow-obama-direct-arms/

Solaratov on February 27, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Mistake.

The edge is slipping away from the FSA and they’re relying more and more on extremists such as Al Nusra.

Big mistake.

BTW, freaking liberal peace (at any cost to include stabbing your military in the back for political gain) protesters, where are the anti-obama anti-war demonstrations?

hawkdriver on February 27, 2013 at 10:47 PM

Whatever the mission we can count on Kerry to screw it up.

virgo on February 28, 2013 at 2:04 AM