Obama still wary about arming Syria rebels

Quoted in AFP: (Spanish Version)

On Wednesday, Obama gave no sign though that despite his re-election there would be any major shift yet in his Syria policy.

“The US has been virtually missing in action on Syria so far, but their recent moves, including the push for the formation of the coalition, indicates that they might be ready to adopt a more proactive attitude,” said pro-democracy Syrian activist, Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

“The heavy lifting, though, including arming rebels and perhaps pushing for a de facto no-fly zone, might still be left to other countries at this stage,” he told AFP.

US analysts said questions remained over the new coalition, highlighting for example that a Kurdish body had still not joined.

The opposition now needs to work on setting up a transitional government and some form of military council, they said.

“What the United States is looking for… is one military organization where all military aid can be channeled, that in turn can be relied upon to distribute the money among fighting groups inside the country, leaving out the jihadi groups,” said Marina Ottaway, senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“This is a very admirable plan. I’m not sure that it can work,” she told AFP, adding: “The idea that somehow by centralizing the distribution of money the jihadi groups will be cut off, I don’t think it’s realistic.”

Abdulhamid agreed that before the international community could start arming the rebels a “mechanism for vetting groups and delivery channels need to be agreed.”