U.S. Wants to “Accelerate” Syria Transition, Policy Divided
In a press conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. is “examining ways to accelerate” the transition, and said of President Bashar al-Assad: “He must know he can’t shoot his way out of this so we need to convince him of that and the opposition needs more help in order to be able to do that.” His statements came amid a report Tuesday that the U.S. is planning to ramp up support for the rebels and augment non-lethal humanitarian assistance with armored vehicles, body armor and military training.
Johnathan Steele of the Guardian writes that Kerry should resist any possible “U-turn” by the Obama administration in arming the Syrian rebels, opting instead for the U.S. to provide leadership on peace talks between Assad and the rebels to prevent further violence. “Kerry should have the wisdom to choose a better course. Where his predecessor was a hawk on the issue, he needs to confront the SNC and the Washington right-wingers who back them, and say Khatib had the better vision,” he writes.
Remarking on reports of further U.S. assistance to the rebels , Elliot Abrams welcomes the news and chides the Obama administration for so far failing to properly funnel humanitarian assistance directly to the opposition. He elaborates: “to be considering two years in whether we should now direct our humanitarian aid away from government-controlled agencies… and toward rebel-controlled areas and rebel groups we favor is the greatest indictment of the administration’s Syria policy.”
Frederic Hof of the Atlantic Council similarly details a U.S. policy strategy for Syria that removes Assad from power through limited U.S. military intervention and advances a “non-sectarian government of citizenship and civil society” committed to “comprehensive Mideast peace.”