Arming Syrian Rebels: Deja Vu All Over Again

Stimson Spotlight

Arming Syrian Rebels: Deja Vu All Over Again

This week the Obama administration launched the bombing phase of the U.S. strategy with the goal of destroying the Islamic State. While results of the initial phase are still becoming clarified, it is another aspect of the strategy – the arming of moderate Syrian forces – that poses increasingly serious risks and uncertainties.

It was only just six weeks ago that the president argued that arming the Syrian rebels was “fantasy.” Now, as he abruptly shifts his strategy – both in bombing Syria and aiding the opposition to President Bashar al Assad -- he should first answer three important questions: Who will be on the receiving end of these weapons? And, just who are these “moderate” rebels? And, now that the U.S. is at war with the Islamic State, what is to guarantee the weapons will stay out of their hands?

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Photo credit: FreedomHouse via flickr