Posted by on July 11, 2013 in Blog

In a change of course, on June 11, the Obama administration announced that it would send weapons to some vetted elements of the Syrian opposition. Acting on evidence that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including sarin nerve gas, against the opposition, the administration said it would send small arms, ammunition, and possibly anti-tank weapons to aid rebels. The weapons, however, have not arrived according to Syrian opposition forces and an unnamed official from an Arab country, according to Reuters. And now, with the recent shake up in Egypt, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that the weapons will be delivered any time soon, at least as long as Congress has any say in the matter. Members of Congress fear that the weapons will end up in the hands of extremists (a legitimate concern), some of whom are associated with branches of Al Qaeda. Reuters reports:

Both the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees have expressed reservations behind closed doors at the effort by President Barack Obama's administration to support the insurgents by sending them military hardware.

Committee members also want to hear more about the administration’s overall Syria policy, and about how it believes its arms plan will affect the situation on the ground, where Assad’s forces have made recent gains.

Late last month, Secretary of State John Kerry and outgoing CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell briefed the intelligence committees in detail secretly about plans to arm the rebels in response to growing evidence that Assad's forces had used chemical weapons, the sources said.

After that briefing, members of both committees expressed dissatisfaction with the plan, the sources said.

News of Congress’s unwillingness to send arms to Syrian opposition forces isn’t the only problem facing Syrian rebels. Infighting between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, exacerbated by the collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is a further setback for the opposition. In an article this week in The Nation Bob Dreyfus writes that with the Muslim Brotherhood ousted in Egypt, the Syrian opposition is having greater “difficulty winning support outside Egypt.” With their main Arab benefactors fragmented, with weapons from Washington unlikely, and with Assad’s forces making advances in strategic cities like Homs, things are not looking good for the Syria opposition right now.

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