Obama Proposes $500 Million to Aid Syrian Rebels
Posted in the Columbus Forum
#1 Jun 27, 2014
What a turd! Way to follow to footsteps of Ronney Rea! Let's arm every enemy of our enemy because we know for sure they will never be our enemy again!
WASHINGTONThe White House on Thursday proposed a major program to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels, in a significant expansion of the U.S. role in a civil war that officials fear is bleeding into Iraq and across the region.
The Obama administration requested $500 milliona larger amount than expectedto aid the Syrian opposition, reflecting growing U.S. alarm at the expanding strength of Islamist forces in Syria, who in recent weeks have asserted control of large parts of neighboring Iraq and now pose threats to U.S. allies in the region.
Coming on the heels of a decision to send 300 military advisers to Iraq, the Syrian rebel training elevates the U.S. role in the Middle East.
The proposal amounts to a major U-turn by the administration, which had sought until now to limit its involvement in the war.
However, the expanded U.S. involvement will be on President Barack Obama's terms, by emphasizing the use of partner forces, and not the direct use of American combat forces.
Speaking at a town-hall meeting in Minneapolis on Thursday, Mr. Obama emphasized that he didn't want U.S. forces fighting in the Middle East, but said recent violence has focused attention on the region.
"We've got to pay attention to the threats that are emanating from the chaos in the Middle East," Mr. Obama said.
Officials stressed there are hurdles to overcome before the expanded Syrian rebel program goes into effect, including obtaining congressional approval; figuring out how to effectively vet large numbers of rebel fighters so the U.S. doesn't end up training extremists; and persuading countries in the region to host the effort.
Officials said the program may not actually begin until next year. They said the first batch of fighters could complete training roughly six to eight months after the proposed program is authorized and funded by Congress.
Still, the move amounts to an about face by an administration that had sought to strictly limit its role in the Syrian civil war.
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That impulse has been countered by the growing crisis in Iraqwhich was fueled by militant groups that have been fighting in Syria. The new program especially, and the existing CIA effort, would focus on training opposition forces to fight both the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and al Qaeda-inspired groups, officials said.
"They are waking up to the degree and time scale of the problem," Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said of the administration.
The new money for the Syrian rebels was contained in the administration's request to Congress for funding for the country's military operations abroad, in a supplement to the budget request known as "overseas contingency operations."
The administration requested $68.5 billion overall, including for the Afghanistan war, a new counterterrorism fund and money to shore up European allies. The money to train Syrian rebels would come out of the $5 billion counterterrorism fund that includes another $1.5 billion for Syria's neighborsincluding Turkey, Jordan and Iraqto help those countries secure borders and deal with Syrian refugees.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican and one of the strongest advocates in Congress for a deeper American involvement in Syria, said the support for rebels was overdue, but predicted it would receive bipartisan support.
"The idea of ignoring Syria and letting it deteriorate is not working out well for us," Mr. Graham said.
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