The United States has for the first time offered direct aid to Syrian rebels, instead of merely aiding them through intermediaries. This is yet another significant milestone as President Bashar Assad’s regime hurtles toward collapse.
The offer was announced on February 28 by incoming Secretary of State John Kerry at a Friends of Syria meeting in Rome. America has pledged to directly provide $60 million in “non-lethal” aid to Syria’s main political opposition group, the Syrian Opposition Coalition.
While the Syrian opposition was disappointed by not receiving weapons, this is a huge contribution that, as Kerry said, could “change Assad’s calculation” about his ability to stay in power. The aid package is intended to help with political unification efforts and improve education, sanitation, security and essential public services to areas of Syria that have already been lost by Assad’s regime.
President Assad even conceded that there was nothing “non-lethal” about the aid being supplied to the rebels. In an interview with London’s Sunday Times published March 3, he said the “intelligence, communication and financial assistance being provided is very lethal.”
Previous indirect support that the U.S. has provided to the Syrian opposition includes training rebels in a covert cia operation and supplying communications equipment. Some of this communications infrastructure may have been worrisome enough for Assad to set off November’s two-day telecommunications blackout in Syria.
The U.S. is reluctant to send armaments to Syrian rebels because it fears being embroiled in another Middle East conflict, especially in the event that those arms slip into the wrong hands. However, America is prepared to provide non-lethal assistance. Kerry said during the meeting, “We’re doing this, but other countries are doing other things.”
Saudi Arabia has been stepping up its supply of weapons to the rebels, and Britain plans to send military transport vehicles, body amour and night-vision equipment.
Once upon a time—March 2011—Syrian rebels were a bunch of violent demonstrators. In February 2012, the group Friends of Syria was formed in solidarity with the rebels. And in November 2012, Britain, France and the six nations comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council formally recognized the Syrian rebels. The United States legitimized the rebels the following month. Today—nearly 24 months, 70,000 deaths and 1 million refugees after Syria’s uprising began—the U.S. is sending direct aid, just shy of weaponry, to the rebels.
“Syria is mission creep waiting to happen,” warned University of Oklahoma Syria expert Prof. Joshua Landis. “There’s no way to avoid it, given the scale of the problem emerging on the ground in Syria as the state comes apart. In fact, the most convincing argument for more direct intervention has been that as perilous as intervention appears to be today, we will only face an even more dangerous situation if we don’t get involved.”
Writing for cnn, world affairs columnist Frida Ghitis, observed the following:
The possible outcomes in Syria include the emergence of a failed state, stirring unrest throughout the region. If Assad wins, Syria will become an even more repressive country.
Assad’s survival would fortify Iran and Hezbollah and other anti-Western forces. If the extremists inside the opposition win, Syria could see factional fighting for many years, followed by anti-democratic, anti-Western policies.
The only good outcome is victory for the opposition’s moderate forces.
The collapse of Bashar Assad’s regime is inevitable. It’s only a matter of time. The latest U.S. policy shift to send direct aid to Syria is yet another game changer that will ultimately help topple Assad’s government.
Based on Bible prophecy, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has declared for over a decade that Syria would switch allegiance from Iran to an alliance of “moderate” Arab states and Germany. From current headlines, it is clear that this switch will only occur through the collapse of Assad’s regime.