News / USA

Iraq Drives New US Policy in Syria 

A member of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa, Iraq, June 29, 2014.
A member of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa, Iraq, June 29, 2014.
Catherine Maddux

One direct byproduct of the rapid advancement of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq is a revamped U.S. policy in Syria.

Last week, President Obama asked Congress to authorize $500 billion in direct assistance to train and equip what it calls "appropriately vetted elements of the moderate Syrian armed opposition."

That's a dramatic turnaround for Obama, who has tried to keep his distance from the civil war in Syria, which has become more complex and deadly – including the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria.

So, why now?

"The ISIS [ISIL] stampede into Iraq has, I think, concentrated the minds of the president and policy makers in the administration, and perhaps made them realize that our current policy in Syria isn't working," says Michael Crowley, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for TIME.

In its authorization request, the White House cited “growing spillover effects of the Syrian conflict” among its reasons for aiding some Syrian rebels. ISIL militants are headquartered in the northern Syrian city of Allepo. 

Just under two years ago, in late 2012, says Crowley, Obama was presented a plan supported by Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta and David Petraeus to step up training and arming of the rebels in Syria.

While not embracing that proposal, the president has signed off on doing more to bolster acceptable elements of the Syrian opposition very gradually.  That reportedly includes supplying rebels with heavy anti-tank weapons and a Central Intelligence Agency program to train a small number of rebels every month in Jordan. 

But the new request from Congress is a long way from Obama's "red line" moment, when Assad unleashed nerve gas in 2013, exactly one year after the president warned of serious consequences.

No air strikes were launched. 

Crowley points out that just two years after direct training of Syrian rebels was raised, the equation in Syria is a lot of more complicated, casting doubt on how effective a dramatically bolstered training effort might be. 

"We're [the United States] more interested in seeing the rebels fight the Islamists than we are in seeing them defeating Assad. It's a real three-dimensional chess game right now," he said.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Igor from: Russia
June 30, 2014 11:14 PM
"when Assad unleashed nerve gas in 2013, exactly one year after the president warned of serious consequences". You speak as if indeed Assad had unleashed nerve gas without any convincing proof. It is similar to the case when you blamed Sadam for having mass destruction weapons. Is it the nature of your media?

by: meanbill from: USA
June 30, 2014 5:52 PM
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? -- This US President requests $500 million dollars from the US Congress, to arm and train the Sunni Muslim extremists/terrorists in Jordan and Turkey, (like the US and NATO countries already does), to provide them with more advance weapons to make war on the Shia Muslim led country of Syria... (and that will supposedly help Shia Muslim led Iraq, who needs those US advance weapons themselves), to fight the invading Sunni Muslim (ISIL) "Caliph of all Islam" .... (BELIEVE IT?)...... (this US President believes, that arming and training Sunni Muslims to make war on the Shia Muslims in Syria), will help fight the growing army of the (ISIL) Sunni Muslims fighters of "the Caliph of all Islam" al-Baghdadi, IN IRAQ?...... CRAZY isn't it?

MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION? -- This has to be the craziest plan any sane person ever came up with, (and only a moron, idiot or imbecile), could design such a moronic, idiotic, imbecilic, plan.... (ARM and TRAIN the Sunni Muslims in Jordan and Turkey, "to fight against the Shia Muslim led government in Syria" and that'll help the Shia Muslim led government of Iraq?).... "The Art of Moronic, Idiotic, Imbecilic War Planning" by the US President Barack Obama?.... with help from the (3) stooges?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs