News / Middle East

Syrian Opposition Frustrated with Level of Outside Support

Despite allegations of Syria regime use of chemical weapons, Syrian opposition unable to get weapons to break stalemated two-year civil war.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on April 25 that allegations of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime must be investigated before increased military aid to rebels can be determined. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on April 25 that allegations of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime must be investigated before increased military aid to rebels can be determined.
x
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on April 25 that allegations of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime must be investigated before increased military aid to rebels can be determined.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on April 25 that allegations of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime must be investigated before increased military aid to rebels can be determined.
David Arnold
The United States is reconsidering the level of support it provides the Syrian opposition trying to overthrow the Damascus government following increasing evidence that President Bashar al-Assad's forces have used chemical weapons.
 
But even before President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials acknowledged last week that some chemical weapons had been used in Syria, tensions had already been rising between Washington and the Syrian opposition groups.
 
Those tensions come more than two years into a bloody conflict that the U.S. and the United Nations say has killed more than 80,000 people.
 
Secretary of State John Kerry announced recently that the United States will double its non-lethal military aid to Syrian rebel forces to a total of $123 million. The aid consists mainly of food, medical supplies, night-vision goggles and protective gear, but not weapons.
 
Prominent activist Ahmed Mouaz al-Khatib, who served for more than five months as president of the Syrian National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, reaffirmed his intent to resign as Coalition president.
 
... Syrians have always held the United States on a pedestal ... But they are seeing their families getting slaughtered without any help from the leader of the world.
Khatib first announced his resignation more than three weeks ago, claiming bitter disappointment over his repeated failure to persuade Western governments to send much-needed weapons for insurgent forces in Syria.
 
The Coalition’s media director, Khalid Saleh, told VOA many Syrians echo Khatib’s frustrations and focus their anger on the United States.
 
“When the revolution first started and Ambassador (Robert) Ford was still in Syria and he traveled to the city of Hama (for memorial services for activists), I think the people in Syria held the United States in a very high place,” Saleh said.
 
“But as time passed on and no weapons were provided and more and more deaths were happening - every day now we average 150 to 200 deaths - … the frustration, the anger, if I might say, is directed toward the United States because Syrians have always held the United States on a pedestal ... But they are seeing their families getting slaughtered without any help from the leader of the world,” Saleh added.
 
Opposition asks for surgical strikes
 
A Coalition statement issued after a meeting with Kerry demanded “specific and immediate” measures to prevent the Assad regime from using chemical weapons or ballistic missiles through surgical strikes against launch locations using unmanned aerial vehicles -- drones.
 
The statement continues, “The technical ability to take specific action to prevent the human tragedy and suffering of innocent civilians, mostly women and children, is available … yet nothing serious has been done to put an end to such terror and criminality.”
 
Saleh also said that members of the Coalition who met with Kerry in Istanbul recently made informal requests for a “coalition of the willing” to execute surgical air strikes against the Syrian regime’s Scud missile bases and the presidential palace.
 
“We believe surgical strikes against certain military installations would inspire massive desertions,” Saleh added.
 
Enter the extremist element
 
The United States has been reluctant to send weapons to rebels in Syria, according to some U.S. officials, because of fears the weapons would wind up in the hands of extremist forces such as Jabhat al-Nusra and others jihadists linked to al-Qaida in Iraq. 
 
I think that al-Qaida, in this case, is part of the problem, but it is not the fundamental problem.
Yet despite the increased presence of al-Qaida operatives in Syria, the United States is not likely to target Nusra fighters with drones as they have al-Qaida fighters in Yemen and Pakistan, says Michael O’Hanlon, a national security fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
 
“I think that al-Qaida, in this case, is part of the problem, but it is not the fundamental problem,” O'Hanlon said. 
 
In the coming months, he added, Washington will “see more of a need to make sure that the war tilts toward the opposition, and if it doesn’t, we’ll consider … a range of things that we can do.”
 
“And I think arms shipments become a more plausible first step than drones,” O'Hanlon said.
 
No unanimity in Washington
 
In recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of State Kerry spoke in favor of cooperating with Syrian rebels. He said the U.S. works “very very closely” with the opposition coalition and other partners who are providing rebel units with lethal aid.
 
Committee chairman Carl Levin expressed concern that the United States is not sending a strong enough message to the Syrian president. “I believe that the time has come for the United States to intensify the military pressure on Assad.”
 
Yet during the same committee hearing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed caution about greater military support for rebels in Syria.
 
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, echoed Hagel’s concern. Dempsey, who had previously supported weapons for approved rebel forces, told the committee that the current state of the armed opposition is “actually more confusing… than it was six months ago.” Dempsey said he was no longer confident that the United States could guarantee that lethal aid would get “to the right people.”

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid