Yesterday’s report that Congressional committees have effectively signed off on President Obama’s plan to arm Syrian rebels doesn’t mean the weapons are going to instantly arrive, or that the program is going to last when it faces a battle for funding.
The CIA has had a arms smuggling system in place for quite some time to funnel foreign arms to the Syrian rebels, and is likely to use the same basic system for US arms. The vetting process and the increasingly divided rebel infrastructure is going to make what was always a slow process even slower, however.
And with the first arms showing up in a matter of weeks, the system might have to shut down just as it is getting started, with officials saying the classified funding program will expire at the end of September, and the White House will need to seek Congressional authorization yet again.
And that’s not going to be easy. Congress hasn’t been thrilled with the scheme in the first place, and it is unlikely to be a serious game-changer, let alone when it’s just getting started. Rather, the program is likely to face twin objections of being ineffective and backing rebels who are getting closer and closer to al-Qaeda, problems that will grow over time.
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