News / Middle East

Aid to Syrian Opposition Falls Short of Expectations

Aid to Syrian Opposition Falls Short of Expectationsi
X
February 28, 2013 9:55 PM
The additional $60 million in U.S. civilian aid for the Syrian Opposition - announced Thursday by Secretary of State John Kerry, along with an unspecified amount of non-lethal aid to some of its military forces - falls far short of what the Syrian activists wanted. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Rome, where the opposition met with Kerry and dozens of other foreign supporters.

Aid to Syrian Opposition Falls Short of Expectations

Al Pessin
The additional $60 million in U.S. civilian aid for the Syrian Opposition - announced Thursday by Secretary of State John Kerry, along with an unspecified amount of non-lethal aid to some of its military forces - falls far short of what the Syrian activists wanted. The opposition met with Kerry and dozens of other foreign supporters.

The continuing death and destruction in Syria have intensified international concern, but have not changed the strategic situation: The West and key Arab countries don't want to do anything that would strengthen the militant wings of the Syrian opposition.

That was the dilemma facing Kerry and other foreign leaders when they met with key Syrian opposition figures in Rome on Thursday. The result was a $60-million increase in U.S. civilian aid.

“This funding will allow the opposition to reach out and help the local councils to be able to rebuild in their liberated areas of Syria, so that they can provide basic services to people who often lack access today to medical care, to food, to sanitation," said Kerry.

The United States also will for the first time provide aid directly to the Syrian rebel fighters - combat rations and medical supplies, but not the weapons, vehicles and body armor they want. There is concern that any aid could fall into the hands of the militants.

And there is another reason, according to Daniel Serwer of Washington's Middle East Institute - a desire not to antagonize Syria's main foreign supporter, Russia.

“The United States needs Russian help on Afghanistan with the withdrawal of American troops through the northern distribution network, troops and equipment, and it needs Russian help for the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran," said Serwer.

Still, Serwer said the limited U.S. aid will be significant. “I think it will make a difference because I think if the opposition starts to be seen as a real alternative to the regime, that would make a big difference both within Syria and more broadly in the world.”

Kerry indicating the idea is to provide a credible alternative not only to the regime, but to militant rebel groups that have been effective at providing services in liberated areas.

Salman Shaikh of the Brookings Institution agreed that there is an important political element to the new U.S. aid. But he said it won't make much practical difference.

“The United States is edging forward, but in and of itself, biscuits and Band-Aids are not going to change the conflict on the ground. The conflict is in a very dangerous situation now,” said Shaikh.

Kerry wants the new international aid to change Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's calculation about whether he should resign or continue to fight. Previous efforts have not.  

Nor have the passage of more than a year - and Assad's increased attacks on civilians - changed the U.S. calculation that it is best not to get involved militarily, or even to arm the opposition it supports.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: pete from: oregon
March 01, 2013 12:03 PM
you have got to be kidding me. we are giving $60m+ to syrian opposition when we cannot balance our budget and it falls short of their wants????!? and how much is the unspecified non-lethal aid? we are making potentially major cuts in our world because the money isn't there, but we can give a ton of money to a bunch of countries that hate us anyway. how about we keep all our money? how about we bring all our troops home? how about we make this the strongest country in the world again and tell the rest to figure it out. they hate us anyway. they think we are weak (we are). make us strong and viable first.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid