Currently, the U.S. is only providing Syrian political groups – not armed ones like the FSA –humanitarian aid, communications equipment and training. The State Department is carefully vetting these opposition groups to ensure they have no terrorist links. The U.S. stamp of approval then opens the floodgates for other countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to provide lethal aid as well.
Some say that’s not nearly enough. “If the U.S. is only going to be a facilitator of arms flows into the country, that’s not enough to be stabilize things, to end the violence,” says Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian dissident who has been in exile in Washington since 2005. “In fact, it only makes things worse.”
Adbulhamid wants Washington and NATO to impose a no-fly zone as they did over Libya and Iraq. But U.S. officials say there is little chance of that happening given Assad’s advanced anti-aircraft weaponry. “The notion that we could pursue a military intervention and that would make the situation go away would not be one we’d sign on to,” says Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser.