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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs