Israel Advocates Quiet on U.S. Plans To Arm Syria Rebels

Fears Remain That Arms Will Find Way to Islamists

Tough Fight: Syrian rebels are pressing their fight against the Damascus regime. Despite concerns, pro-Israel advocates are staying neutral on the question of whether the U.S. should arm the rebels.
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Tough Fight: Syrian rebels are pressing their fight against the Damascus regime. Despite concerns, pro-Israel advocates are staying neutral on the question of whether the U.S. should arm the rebels.

By Nathan Guttman

Published May 27, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.

(page 2 of 5)

That could make the work of Syrian opposition representatives in Washington somewhat easier.

With no end in sight to the carnage in Syria’s civil war, activists from opposition groups are lobbying the administration and Congress to begin arming the rebels with American-made weapons.

The move, they say, could tip the balance in favor of the opposition and hasten Assad’s departure — an outcome Washington publicly supports — without requiring American boots on the ground or an expensive and dangerous air raid campaign.

“Arming the rebels may be the least expensive option,” said Louay Sakka, co-founder of Syrian Support Group, the only organization permitted under American law to provide direct support to Syrian rebel groups.

Sakka argued that those who fear that introducing more arms into the already bloody civil war would just worsen the situation are hiding their heads in the sand. “It’s very comfortable when nobody wants to get involved,” he said. “Are you protecting the minorities [in Syria] by not getting involved?”

But in Washington, many fear a scenario in which American weapons eventually end up in the hands of jihadist groups that will use them against the United States and its allies in the region, which include not only moderate Sunni countries, but also Turkey and Israel.



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