Recently, lawmakers on the Hill, along with Russia, became quite upset with Kerry and the Obama administration for the announcement that 6o million in ‘non-lethal’ aid would be provided to the Syrian rebels. Things in Syria have deteriorated rapidly in the last few months, which is surprising considering how things were already pretty terrible. In the last few days, the Syrian rebels took a base but lost an airport road. Damascus has been the site of heavy fighting, and the number of Syrian refugees is predicted to hit one million this week. The UN is scrambling for funds to provide care for the massive numbers of men, women, and children that have fled the fighting.
The Obama administration has been criticized by many on both sides for lack of action on Syria. However, I have argued before that Obama is wise to not actively arm the opposition. Mainly because arming rebels is a bad idea. You can’t just arm your favorite rebels, you can’t control the flow of arms once they enter the country, and as long as the home government has support of other nations it just drags stalemates out longer. In response to Kerry’s announcement that the US would supply non-lethal aid (eg not guns, but everything else), Russia said the US was interfering and prolonging the destruction of Syria, and the rebels said “Hey, it took you 7 months to decide to give us some band-aids? WE WANT GUNS!”
Assad, the dictator that refuses to step down, seems more than willing to continue the destruction and has accused the US and the UK of supplying ‘terrorists’. He refuses to negotiate with the rebels. The Free Syrian Army, however, seem to be losing civilian support, as local leaders of cities and towns within Syria struggle to establish some form of government to keep basic services going among the warfare.
The UN is still trying to broker peace, but as long as Russia continues to support and protect Assad, things will not change. At the moment, both sides are waging fierce battles for control over Syria. What the future holds is more refugees, more war, and the eventual total destruction of the country. The stalemate will only break if the US decides to really arm the rebels or if Russia decides that protecting Assad becomes to costly. Unfortunately for Syria, neither of those outcomes seem likely.