Barack Obama is pulling his usual routine of leading from behind, this time in Syria. The Obama Administration has decided to offer the Syrian rebels everything but arms, even though they are getting slaughtered by the thousands. Even with Kofi Annan, the UN’s negotiator, throwing in the towel, Obama won’t fully commit to helping out.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “Our position has not changed: We provide non-lethal assistance to the opposition. We don’t believe that adding to the number of weapons in Syria is what’s needed to help bring about a peaceful transition.”
A State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, said:
Our analysis is that the regime’s capability is being weakened. That the Syrian army soldiers are becoming demoralized and that the Syrian opposition are gaining ground … So our strategy is having an effect. We are going to continue to use every lever that we have in our plan to hasten the day that Assad steps aside, to accelerate our sanctions, to squeeze this regime as they run out of money, it’s to assist the opposition so they can better communicate and organize and get around a political transition.
Unnamed US officials said President Barack Obama had signed a document allowing covert support to the rebels and secret support from the CIA, which could involve organizing with the rebels and providing communications, intelligence assets and assessments.
But somehow the rebels are still obtaining heavy weapons. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which regard Syria with hostility for its closeness with Iran, are helping the rebels, too.
Some $25 million in non-lethal US support such as communications has already been earmarked for the Syrian opposition.
On Thursday, Obama approved an extra $12 million in humanitarian aid for Syrians because of President Assad’s “horrific atrocities.”
Meanwhile, Russia and China, which have supported Assad by blocking UN resolutions to strengthen sanctions against him, have not been shy to take sides.
Obama doesn’t like taking the lead on foreign policy; he prefers to wait to see which side will win and then endorse them. It’s convenient for him not to stand for anything, but it plays hell with others’ lives.