Secretary Kerry announced this morning that the US would double its support for the Syrian rebels, with total of a quarter of a billion dollars in assistance heading their way.
The New York Times has the story:
A portion of the new American aid, the State Department said, will help provide additional “nonlethal” supplies to the military wing of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, an umbrella organization formed in November to unite the various rebel groups that have been trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad for two years.
So here we are more than two years into Syria’s bloody civil war, with over 70,000 people dead, and the US, tentatively, offers nonlethal aid to the rebels. More decisive steps taken earlier might have done more both to spare Syrians who continue to suffer through this conflict, and to send a message about America’s intentions to Iran.
We have more skin in the game now; the question is whether we will gain influence on the ground as a result. It currently appears that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have closer relations and more influence with the rebels than we do. American policy seems to be reduced to hoping that this influence is used wisely.
[A woman protests Assad outside the UN Headquarters on September 26, 2012. Getty Images.]