US Mulls Paying Rebels Salaries In Wake of Failed Syria Peace Talks


Credit: Pete Souza/wikimedia

Last week, the Syria peace talks held in Switzerland finished without progress, prompting United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to apologize to the Syrian people.

Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Russia, one of Syria's strongest allies, for sending arms to the Assad regime.

According to The New York Times, American and European officials said that the U.S. is considering paying some rebels salaries "and providing more transportation and intelligence." Obama administration officials have said that Western leaders, including President Obama, have dropped objections to proposals from Saudi Arabia and other countries to send advanced weapons to some rebels.

The Times goes on to explain why Obama is apparently more willing to allow some rebel groups to be supplied with heavy weapons:

Mr. Obama's apparent willingness to drop objections to supplying the rebel groups with heavier weapons may simply be an acknowledgment that Saudi Arabia and gulf states that are frustrated with American policy are now prepared to do so anyway, without Washington's blessing. American officials say they also now have a better sense than they did last year about which groups they can trust to use and secure the weapons.

Mr. Obama has also been influenced by growing fears that Syria is becoming a training ground for a new generation of terrorists and may become even more of a haven until a political settlement is reached. "That's one big change from a year ago," a senior American diplomat said. "And it's beginning to haunt everyone with memories of Afghanistan."

The Times also mentions a meeting between intelligence agencies from anti-Assad countries. The Nation's Bob Dreyfuss believes that this is a sign that the Obama administration is giving up on diplomacy:

According to the Times, a secret meeting just concluded of all of the intelligence agencies involved in the anti-Assad coalition, including the CIA and the spy chiefs from Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. If so, that's a sign that the administration's commitment to diplomacy is fading, and that Obama is prepared to let the covert operators go to work with a freer leash. Indeed, it appears that the Obama administration has given the green light to Saudi Arabia to supply the rebels with heavy weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles.

More from Reason.com on Syria here.