Israel Warns US: Don’t Arm Syrian Rebels Without Proper Vetting

Reflects Similar Statements Given to Britain

With the news that the Obama Administration is seriously considering reversing its position and directly arming Syria’s rebels, Israeli officials are cautioning them to only do so after they’ve vetted the rebels they’re arming.

“We ask that those groups be carefully vetted,” said Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, and while that seemingly would go without saying, the US has a long history of arming dubious groups and Syria’s situation is so complex that even nations previously on board with the arming thing, like Britain, have backed off because they think it’s just too dangerous.

Oren’s comments reflect similar warnings to Britain last month, before their change of heart, and it’s not hard to see why, with the more Islamist rebel factions openly talking about spreading their jihad across the region, with Israel one of many neighbors that has a big target on its back.

Though in theory the US is already vetting these rebels before it trains them in Jordan, that has worked out poorly and left Islamist factions in control over most of the Jordanian border. A decision to say, provide the rebels with anti-aircraft weapons and then watch them attack civilian airliners from neighboring countries, something even the “moderate” FSA has pledged to do, is going to be much harder to take back, and while Israel may be more public in its warnings, it is something that all of Syria’s neighbors are clearly worried about.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.