Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Syrain Massacre and United States Aid

Al-Jazeera is reporting today that Syrian activists have made the gruesome discovery of 80 bodies in the suburbs of Damascus, including women and children. Fighting had been occuring in the area for four days, but opposition fighters had pulled out of the area later Saturday night and the Syrian army was able to take control early Sunday morning. It is being said that many were killed in cross fire, but that some were also killed in summary executions. Reports are still that the area near Damascus is one of heavy interest for both fighting parties and that these areas have been deprived of basic needs for survival.

Amid these reports of killings in Syria, the United States is getting another aid package together for the rebel forces. Roughly $130 million in non-lethal aid is said to be sent, but this time the aid could possible include battlefield equipment such as night goggles and body armor. The administration is using the fact that this conflict is affecting other countries as one of the reasons why more aid has agreed to be sent. Amongst concerns about extremist groups, some with ties to Al-Qaeda, being a part of the opposition, a meeting was held with Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of the Syrian Coalition, and Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister to ensure the aid is properly funneled to appropriate rebel factions. Also, during this meeting, the Syrian Coalition agreed that a post-Assad government would be non-extremist and pluralistic, following the rule of law. The United States has voiced concern that if rebel forces were to succeed, that the country become a democracy with minority voices heard. Amidst these concerns, the U.S. will still send the $130 million in aid, which brings the amount of non-lethal aid from the United States to $250 million, soon. Much like the last aid package, it will be mostly food and medical supplies for fighting forces. Though this amount is high, it was less than the Syrian Coalition was hoping for. In addition, the embargo on arms sales to Syria by the European Union is coming up for renewal at the end of May.

With reports of escalated violence from the government on it's own people and increasing aid from the U.S. it is easy to wonder just how long this battle will continue. With no show of backing down from either side and with increasing help from foreign countries, it is hard to see an end in sight, or even a clear front-runner, in the conflict.

Works Cited

Arsu, Michael R. Gordon And Sebnem. "Kerry Says U.S. Will Double Aid to Rebels in Syria." The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Apr. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2013. <>.

"Syria Activists Report Massacre near Damascus." AlJazeera. AlJazeera, 21 Apr. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2013. <>.



  1. The conflict in Syria has been going on too long and has spread too far for their not to be any sort of international intervention. By the EU placing the arms embargo on Syria and with the US sending more foreign aid to rebel groups it seems that this will only draw out the conflict even further. Although this does suggest that the international community is trying to influence a nonviolent approach, i believe that with both sides refusing to stand down that their needs to be rational concessions made for minority groups. Without any concessional progress the rebel groups will proceed to spread, if and when the fighting does span from Turkey to Jordan their may be no way to put a peaceful end to the bloodshed.

  2. I found this interesting given the discussion we've been having about the possible logic of the US backing Assad (since it looks like he is slowly losing power in Syria, and if we were to back him we could better "bleed out" both sides). It looks as the US is still holding fast in terms of providing humanitarian aid, and possibly kicking around the idea of backing the rebels, but overall staying away from Assad. Quite honestly, I think that's probably the right thing to do--direct intervention on behalf of either side at this point could turn into quite a mess, and I think the situation there is still fairly unpredictable. Better to wait and see what sort of unifying figures (might) come out of the rebel groups before jumping in.

  3. I honestly think that the U.S. is invested more than the aid we're providing. After reading so much on Syria it only seems like the it's a matter of time before we throw more of our weight into the conflict. Both sides show no sign of backing down or offering concessions. It would seem that our best interest now is to provide non-lethal aid because of extremist groups that are fighting with the rebels, but if aid can be funneled to forces who the U.S. can comfortably back, then I can see things progressing.

  4. The biggest news is that the differing factions within the Syrian coalition are showing increased signs of cooperation and organization. In support of the Salehyan, Gleditsch, and Cunningham article, as the Syrian Coalition increases internal cooperation, foreign aid to that rebel group will also increase. In this sense, while the coalition is no longer weak and lacks the internal strength to prevail on their own, the rebels have attained a level of power which is ideal for the occurrence of foreign aid, exhibited by the increased non-lethal aid package provided by the United States.

  5. With no signs of either side giving in the white flag I believe that United States will need to step in. With that being said figuring out when to step in is crucial to supporting the rebels and putting a stop to the war. With aid at $250 million, it is obvious the U.S has choosen a side. I hope we step in at the right time if not this could be dragged out even longer just as we discussed in class.