US Continues Mixed Signals on Arming Syrian Rebels

Saudi FM Says Funneling Weapons to FSA 'An Excellent Idea'

Violence is on the rise again in Syria today, and as usual the death toll has been followed by calls from the opposition for more direct armament from the international community. The prospect has been the subject of serious debate.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that Britain is “ruling out” sending arms, but his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal endorsed the scheme, saying it was an “excellent idea.” The Arab League has already passed a plan, with Saudi backing, encouraging members to arm Syria’s rebels.

Where the US stands is still something of a mystery, as arming the rebels has been endorsed repeatedly by officials and political hopefuls, but the White House has once again said today that it isn’t going to commit to arming the rebels “at this point in time.” With open calls from Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) and others to funnel arms through other nations, the non-committal response might suggest behind-the-scenes negotiations are ongoing.

Despite the pretense of “desperation” among the rebels, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) already has considerable weaponry it looted from the Syrian military during its defection. Rumors have continued to swirl that the group, which is based in Turkey, has access to outside weaponry as well, and the fighters coming from Iraq at the behest of al-Qaeda are likewise arriving armed and ready for war.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.