Officials: US Decision to Syrian Rebels Was Made Weeks Ago

Chemical Weapons Statement Just an Excuse to Act

Yesterday’s announcement that the US had suddenly decided that the Syrian government was using chemical weapons and that therefore the Obama Administration was going to start arming Syrian rebels was presented as an impromptu action made in haste, with the ongoing debate on arming the rebels at any rate suddenly forgotten.

Officials are conceding the whole thing is much more straightforward than that, however, and that the Obama Administration had decided to start arming the rebels “weeks ago,” and was just waiting for a convenient time to whip out the chemical arms excuse as a pretext for doing it.

Syrian rebels have been pressing the need for “immediate” aid from the moment the war began, but it seems the fall of the town of Qusayr is what convinced the administration that they needed to start the arming now, or risk the rebels losing momentum and eventually the war.

But even the promises of arms already made aren’t enough for many rebels, who are demanding huge influxes of combat vehicles, including tanks and warplanes, under the assumption that the US can transform them from an insurgency into a heavily armed military with its own air force overnight.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for 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.