U.S. arms to Syria not likely to have big impact

Published July 15th, 2013 - 10:34 GMT
A rebel fighter holds an improvised mortar shell, one of many stacked at a factory in the city of Aleppo, Syria's commercial capital, on July 7, 2013. (Source: AFP/JM LOPEZ)
A rebel fighter holds an improvised mortar shell, one of many stacked at a factory in the city of Aleppo, Syria's commercial capital, on July 7, 2013. (Source: AFP/JM LOPEZ)

A month after United States President Barack Obama pledged to send weapons to the embattled Syrian opposition, many officials from the West and the Middle East doubt that the shipments of arms will have a tide-turning effect on the war, reported the New York Times on Monday.

Plans such as using the C.I.A. to train rebel fighters in neighboring Jordan and Turkey may take months to affect the battlefield, officials told the NYT. And the weapons being discussed are only small arms to be given to an exclusive group of rebel fighters, as the U.S. fears the weapons falling into the hands of Islamic extremists on the opposition front.

The Israeli government, meanwhile, has toned down its opposition to Western countries arming the Syrian rebels, for fear of Hizbollah and Assad victories empowering Shiite supporters of Iran, according to Haaretz, a prominent Israeli newspaper.

The indecision and caution shown by the U.S. in handling the Syrian crisis shows that both the U.S. legislature and Obama administration face internal divisions on how to handle the situation, the NYT reported.

“In my meetings with American policy makers I often detect a conversation between ghosts,” Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, told the NYT regarding the debate. “The ghosts of Afghanistan and Iraq are vying with the ghosts of Rwanda and Kosovo.”


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