Disagreements on Capitol Hill Stall Obama's Plan To Arm Rebels in Syria


Credit: Voice of America News: Scott Bobb reports from Aleppo, Syria

The Obama administration's plan to arm rebels in Syria is being delayed because members of the House and Senate intelligence committees are divided on whether the U.S. should arm rebels in Syria.

While it might be the case that the Obama administration would like Congress to back the plan to arm rebels in Syria the plan could be implemented without Congressional approval.

From The Washington Post:

Under the administration's plan, the arms shipments are to be undertaken as a covert action by the CIA. Although the administration must inform the intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, their approval and funding authorization are not required by law.

But seeking agreement is a long-held tradition. Congress has shown in the past that it is willing to use its budget power to prevent specific intelligence activities, as it did in the early 1980s with laws prohibiting funds for contra fighters seeking to overthrow Nicaragua's government.

White House spokesman Jay Carney refused Wednesday to comment on the substance of the dispute over supplying arms to Syrian rebels. "The president said we would consult with Congress, and that's what we're doing," Carney said.

One of the concerns some legislators on Capitol Hill have about the plan to send weapons to rebels in Syria is that Assad's opposition includes groups with links to Al Qaeda. Were the U.S. to send weapons to rebels in Syria there is no way to guarantee that these groups would not benefit and further pursue their goal, the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria.