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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
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 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.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


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