Now that the U.S. election is over, the Obama administration is considering
what further it can do to help out the opposition to the Assad regime in Syria. Among the possibilities being considered is directly arming favored rebel factions.
Up to now, the U.S. has played mainly the role of facilitator, with the CIA helping smuggle arms from other countries such as Turkey
into Syria and supposedly seeing to it that the arms do not end up in the hands of Islamic extremists. So far, officials say that no decision has been made about directly arming the rebels.
If the U.S does directly arm the rebels, it may be difficult to convince the world that it is able to do this without arming terrorists. The level of terrorist activity in Syria is already evident. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed in on the issue of helping the rebels at a conference organized by Foreign Policy magazine
. She said:
"We are going to carefully consider what more we can do. I'm sure we will do more in the weeks ahead. If this were a straightforward challenge I think we would all have reached a conclusion and have unified behind exactly what we are going to do, and how to do it."
One step would be to recognize the newly-formed Syrian National Coalition as the sole representative of Syrians, as France has done, followed by the UK and Spain. No doubt the U.S. will follow suit soon. As the appended video notes, the united Syrian opposition is a western-formed coalition created at talks in Doha, Qatar recently. Clinton
"For a long time the Syrian opposition was not able to present anything resembling a unified, coherent vision for what a future post-Assad Syria could look like.We have been deeply involved in helping to stand them up."
Clinton has said she would have more to announce before the Next Friends of Syria meeting in mid-December in Morocco.
Clinton and others are worried that some of the radical terrorist groups now active in the opposition might try to impose a regime that would wreak revenge on minorities such as Christians, and Shia Muslims. Clinton
"This remains a difficult situation to manage because there are so many interests by all of the players.It remains extremely complex. We are doing what we can to support the opposition, but also to try to support those inside Syria particularly in the local councils who are committed to ... continuity and Syrian governmental institutions so we don't see a collapse and a disbandment."
The situation is also complicated by the presence of Kurds in Syria. They are now beginning to fight against the rebels
since they want their own autonomous government. Assad has simply left them alone and not tried to occupy the Kurdish area. This complicates the situation for Turkey as well, since Kurds in northern Iraq will no doubt help out if rebels try to impose their rule on the Kurds.
While there may not quite be a U.S. war against Syria as suggested in a recent Digiital Journal article,
certainly the U.S. is becoming much more involved in the conflict on the side of the rebels.
Direct involvement with U.S. troops is unlikely. This would be too expensive and politically costly. The U.S. will use the rebels themselves as proxies to try to further U.S. policy aims.