U.S. PREPARING PLAN FOR ARMS TRANSFERS TO THE FREE SYRIAN ARMY

Fox News on May 25, 2012, published an AP report on the U.S. administration preparing a plan that would essentially give U.S. nods of approval to arms transfers from Arab nations to some Syrian opposition fighters. Excerpts below:

The effort, U.S. officials told The Associated Press, would vet members of the Free Syrian Army and other groups to determine whether they are suitable recipients of munitions to fight the Assad government and to ensure that weapons don’t wind up in the hands of Al Qaeda-linked terrorists or other extremist groups such as Hezbollah that could target Israel.

U.S. officials, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, stressed that the United States, which is already providing non-lethal aid to Syria’s political opposition, is not supplying military assistance to Assad’s foes.

“Our decision is to support the civilian opposition in nonlethal ways,” she said. “There are other countries who have made other decisions. That’s their sovereign decision to make. We’ve made our decision.”

Privately, officials say that as conditions continue to deteriorate, it would be irresponsible not to weigh in with Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others such as Turkey that have indicated interest in arming the rebels.

By some accounts, those nations already have begun to ship weapons with tacit U.S. agreement. In Turkey, private businessmen have begun funneling weapons into Syria.

Libya’s new rulers, fresh from their own revolution that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, have pledged support for the Syrian rebels, but actually transferring weapons is tricky. Last month, Lebanese authorities seized a ship carrying rocket-propelled grenades and heavy-caliber ammunition, possibly bound for Syrian rebels.


The rebels have cast a wide net, contacting weapons dealers in Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Without some type of U.S. vetting as to who should receive such shipments, the Obama administration and some of its European allies fear that weapons might be used against Western interests.

Al Qaeda has established a limited operational capability in Syria and is responsible for several attacks on Assad targets, the official said. He said analysts believe the goal is to “sow further chaos” and advance an extremist agenda.

AP interviews with security officials, rebels and arms dealers in countries neighboring Syria indicate that individual rebel units have to scrounge for weapons. They have no central organization and no import routes for anything heavier than automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

It is into this mix that the U.S. may soon be inserting itself.

Washington’s supplies of communications equipment and medical supplies to opposition members it has approved are already under way, Officials said that those supplies can now be easily augmented with weapons from other donors.

One Response to “U.S. PREPARING PLAN FOR ARMS TRANSFERS TO THE FREE SYRIAN ARMY”

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