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US double standards: Indirectly arming Syrian rebels?

Published time: February 16, 2012 12:24
Edited time: September 16, 2013 09:31
Armed members of the Free Syrian Army are seen in the western border town of Zabadani. (Reuters / Reuters TV)

Armed members of the Free Syrian Army are seen in the western border town of Zabadani. (Reuters / Reuters TV)

The conflict in Syria is intensifying and the UN is unable to agree on a solution to end the bloodshed. Meanwhile, US politicians are calling to arm opposition forces, amid suspicions the US may already be supplying weapons through its Arab allies.

In spite of the fears that providing anti-governmental rebels in Syria could lead to an irreversible escalation of the conflict and descent into civil war, US politicians are starting to put pressure on Washington.

Republican Senator John McCain is at the forefront of the debate to supply Syrian insurgents with arms, urging the White House to take action.

“We should start considering all options, including arming the opposition. The blood-letting has got to stop," he said to reporters following Syria’s withdrawal of its diplomatic mission from Washington.

Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Elliot Adams echoed McCain when he appeared on a CNN talk show to debate the Syria conflict. He said that the opposition would need more “tangible” support to bring the conflict to an end, “I would give them money and I would give them arms.”

The Free Syrian Army is also putting pressure on the US for weapons supplies. A local freelance journalist told RT that the rebels use the escalating conflict to appeal for support.

“The Free Syrian Army is trying to take this chance to push external forces such as the United States to provide them with more arms,” she said to RT.

The Obama administration has repeatedly ruled out the supply of arms to Syrian insurgents and has said it will continue to look for a solution through diplomatic means. However, this policy is skin deep as it is very probable that the US is providing Syrian rebels with arms indirectly through its Arab allies.

The US has been the number one arms trader to the Middle East in the last couple of decades with nearly 50% of its weapons exports going to the region. Since 2006 the US provided more than $720 million dollars of support to Syria’s neighbor Lebanon in the form of arms and military training according to the Washington Times.

In October of last year the Syrian government reportedly mined the border crossing with Lebanon to curb to the flow of weapons being smuggled into the country.

Furthermore, a former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds told Turkey’s Daily Milliyet newspaper that Syrian rebels had been trained by US and NATO forces in the South of Turkey. She said the US had been involved in smuggling weapons across the Turkish border from the Incirlik military base.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia have also reportedly offered financial support to the Syrian opposition with a view to helping them replenish their dwindling weapons supply.

If the US is able to supply the Syrian opposition with arms through it Arab allies, it hardly seems necessary for the US to pressure for any official military support, much less a peaceful resolution to the conflict if their ultimate aim is to oust Assad.

­Middle East expert Randa Slim from the New America Foundation think-tank says that of the many groups in Syria, Western powers mainly support Syrian National Council despite the organization's general lack of control over events in the country.

“There has been an attempt by the Syrian National Council to establish coordination mechanisms with the Free Syrian Army, and so far these mechanisms have remained on paper.”

She added that the Free Syrian Army itself lacks control and structure.

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