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Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Excerpts:U.S. favors non-weapon aid to Syrian opposition

Excerpts:U.S. favors non-weapon aid to Syrian opposition

+++SOURCE:The Washington Post 27 Feb.’13:”Kerry: U.S. must help counter aid
to Syria opposition from extremists”, byAnne Gearan

SUBJECT: U.S. favors non-weapon aid to Syrian opposition

QUOTE:”Kerry: You have a vulnerable population today that needs to be able
to resist the pleas to engage in extremism’ “

FULL TEXT:PARIS — The United States and several other nations want to
increase support for Syrian rebels, partly to help political moderates
counter the increasingly well-organized network of humanitarian and
political services being offered by extremists, Secretary of State John F.
Kerry said Wednesday.

The United States is one of about a dozen nations preparing a package of
broader financial and practical support for the rebels fighting to oust
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Kerry and other diplomats will frame the
new help during meetings with Syrian political opposition leaders Thursday
in Rome. The additional aid is expected to stop short of the weapons the
rebels have long sought from Western backers.

We all agree that the time has passed for President Assad to heed the voice
of his people and the voice of the people in the world who want a peaceful
transition and a new opportunity for Syria,” Kerry said after meetings with
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

“That’s why we are examining and developing ways to accelerate the political
transition that the Syrian people seek and deserve.”

The Washington Post reported Wednesday[27 Feb.]that the new aid could
include equipment such as body armor and armored vehicles, and possibly
military training, as well as humanitarian assistance sent to Syria’s
opposition political coalition.

Kerry did not give details of the offers but said the goal for international
opponents of Assad is twofold. Syria’s opposition leaders will provide
advice on how to speed an end to the fighting and a move toward a political
settlement, Kerry said.

Secondly, the United States and others want to help the Syrian Opposition
Coalition better meet the needs of civilians, Kerry said, a reference to the
absence of basic government and humanitarian services in many rebel-held
areas of the country. The void has been filled in some places by the
al-Nusra Front, an Islamist group the United States calls a terrorist
organization.

“They’ve had difficulty doing that now. And some folks on the ground that we
don’t support and whose interests do not align with ours are delivering some
of that help,” Kerry said.

“We need to help them to be able to deliver basic services and to protect
the legitimate institutions of the state,” he added. “You have a vulnerable
population today that needs to be able to resist the pleas to engage in
extremism.”

Assad, who retains the loyalty of a powerful segment of the military, has
shown little sign he is ready to bargain with the rebels. Despite the rebel
capture of significant territory and large caches of military weapons, the
war is largely stalemated.

The United States has refused to provide weapons, arguing they could too
easily fall into extremist hands. The European Union also forbids the
provision of weapons, but Britain and other nations are considering
offerings that border on armament.

The larger goal of outside help to the rebels requires convincing Assad that
a rebel victory is inevitable and that he should cut a deal to save himself.

“He needs to know that he can’t shoot his way out of this,” Kerry said. “We
need to convince him of that, and I think the opposition needs more help in
order to be able to do that.”

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Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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