A deal reached in Congress to allow the United States to ship arms to Syrian rebels could spur more support from other nations, blunting the military gains of dictator Bashar Assad and preventing him from crushing the rebel movement.
Syrian rebels say the decision by U.S. lawmakers to go along with President Obama’s plan announced weeks ago to arm their factions will give them an edge.
Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement saying committee members questioned the plan but have agreed it can move forward.
“The House Intelligence Committee has very strong concerns about the strength of the administration’s plans in Syria and its chances for success,” Rogers, R-Mich., said in a statement issued this week.
Rogers and other committee members declined to elaborate on the deal.
Apparently a Congressional vote wasn’t needed to enter the Syrian war and details area a secret.
“American military support may not be sufficient in and of itself, but American leadership in close coordination with our allies … will create a significant shift on the ground,” said Mazen Asbahi, president of the Syrian Support Group, a U.S.-based group of Syrians who are aiding the rebels.
“Arms alone may not be sufficient, but when you add training, intelligence and tactical support you’ll start seeing changes on the ground,” Asbahi said.
Tony Badran, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the decision to arm the rebels is hampered by the administration’s lack of a clear reason for sending the weapons.
“Are we trying to help the rebels fight the jihadis, defeat the regime or cement the stalemate?” Badran said.
The White House says it wants Assad to enter negotiations for his own departure, but “why would Assad negotiate when you’re declaring you have no intention of helping the rebels win?” Badran said.
Mazen Asbahi was Obama’s 2008 Muslim outreach director but was forced to step down when his prior association with a radical Muslim cleric, Jamal Said, became public. Said was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial.
American voters say 61 – 27 percent that it is not in the national interest to be involved in Syria and oppose 59 – 27 percent providing arms and military supplies to anti-government groups, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.