News

Syria's Opposition Wants More Arms

Soldiers of the government forces are seen outside a building in Attarib, Aleppo province, Syria, March 1, 2012.
Soldiers of the government forces are seen outside a building in Attarib, Aleppo province, Syria, March 1, 2012.
Jeff Swicord

The Syrian National Council says its decision to form a military council and unify the opposition will help get weapons from outside sources. The U.S. says all options on the table in Syria, but has not commented on whether to arm the opposition.

With rebels having retreated and Syrian army forces having moved into the opposition stronghold of Baba Amr, there are calls in the international community for limited military intervention against President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Danielle Pletka, an analyst with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, agrees. “Something that would not get us heavily involved, yes. But I think that we ought to look first at the option of arming the Free Syrian army as our first line of offense against Assad,” she said.

The Obama administration has said it will consider “every tool available” to stop the slaughter, but has made no comments on possibly supplying arms.

Phyllis Bennis, an analyst with the progressive Institute For Policy Studies says any militarization is a bad idea.

“That regime is strongest in the military arena.  Weakest in the arena of international legitimacy, human rights, the support of the population.  So, as soon as you make it entirely a military battle, you are playing to the strengths of the regime,” said the analyst.

Some experts argue the opposition is too fragmented and not under a central command, making it difficult to know to whom the weapons would go. Analyst Pletka says these concerns give pause, but are not crucial if the goal is to remove the Assad regime.

“Do we want to try and unify them politically, and help them militarily through the provision of weaponry, potentially not necessarily by the United States, but by our Gulf allies for example?  I think the answer to that is yes,” she said.

There are also concerns that arming opposition groups could fuel sectarian tensions and lead to a deeper civil war.

“Then you are left with a lot of unaccountable militias," said analyst Bennis.  Very similar to the situation now facing people in Libya where you have powerful militias that are holding prisoners, being alleged to be committing terrible human rights violations, and no accountability to anyone.”

There have also been reports of organizations on the U.S. terrorist list such as al-Qaida and Hamas lending support to the opposition.  Pletka argues the longer the U.S. waits, the more likely these groups will sway influence in Syria.

“The answer is to find people you want to work with, do your best to unify them, do your best to give them a political cause, a government in exile and leadership they can answer to, and then work with them to oust Assad,” she said.

Until now, Saudi Arabia is believed to be the main supplier of weapons to the opposition. But Syria watchers believe more are on the way.

On Friday, the Turkish foreign minister met with the Syrian opposition with the discussion of arms supplies on the table.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sam
March 04, 2012 11:16 PM
Yeah, they need more arms, meaning they've already been given some but it's far less. Lets see whether violence by the opposition can help them win the war.

by: Mahmud
March 04, 2012 2:40 PM
Right now you can call Saudi Arabia having the word of a hypocrite. They promised the freedom fighters of Syria physical support. So far they have given the brave fighters against Assad nothing but empty promises. Saudi Arabia portrays itself as the defender of Muslims, yet Muslims are being executed daily by the bloodthirsty Assad killers. Either Saudi Arabia acts now to help the Syrian freedom fighters or the Saudis need to shut up.

by: hamad part 3 of 3
March 02, 2012 8:03 PM
US and its allies who have been trade the rights of Palestinians under the mutual benefits and the side of Iran and Syrian which can not accept the blatant violation and assaults of Israel against Palestinian children which could irritate Arab nations once again.

by: hamad part 2 of 3
March 02, 2012 8:03 PM
the rebels and put them in front line of confrontation whereas Bashar and his supporters are still fighting on the ground . Whose are going to pay the bills ? Of course both side without any result except more bloodshed and victims while Susan Rice is howling . Arming the opposition is the main reason which make Russia and China use veto to stop US intervention to change the regime which they do not like .Those events have splintered the region into two side ; the side of

by: hamad part 1 of 3
March 02, 2012 8:03 PM
So, give them more arms and let them kill each other running behind throne and money like what has been going in Libya . Money make people blind and they could justify any crimes in order to reach the throne . Any way, that will encourage other nations to remove their regime everywhere after years of exploitation and intimidation under the an extraordinary help of Hilary Clinton and her supporters . By the way, Dr. Ron Paul knew how to twist this lady very well . They have already armed

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
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 S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
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 Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. 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.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs