Hagel: US Considering Arming Syria Rebels

Insists This Is Only One Option Being Considered

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel became the first US official to admit that the administration is “rethinking” its previous decision not to arm Syria’s rebels directly, though he insisted that no decision had been made and this was just one option being considered.

This follows days of much less official comments on the matter, with anonymous officials doing most of the talking, capped off with yesterday’s comments from White House spokesman Jay Carney that he “declined to deny” that the rethink was taking place, at the time the only on-record comment.

In the past the US has refused to directly send “lethal aid” to the rebels, but has sent a lot of other gear and facilitated weapons shipments from other (mostly Saudi Arabia and the GCC) nations.

The shift reportedly reflects President Obama’s desire to get more “aggressive” in backing regime change in Syria, but comes as other nations that were more gung-ho originally are backing off the stance, fearing the large al-Qaeda-backed portions of the rebel force can’t be trusted with better weapons.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.