Political Risk

Should the United States End Assistance to Syria’s Rebels?

“The United States announced recently that it was suspending aid to the rebels fighting to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This comes amidst reports that other Western countries are now gradually withdrawing their military support to the rebel forces. Should the suspension of U.S. assistance be made permanent?

There are some good arguments for ending assistance:

The rebellion in Syria is becoming more radicalized. Al Qaeda’s affiliates have become the chief beneficiaries of the rebellion.

As demonstrated by the recent takeover of rebel bases by extremist elements, the rebels cannot hold on to the material given to them. Whatever the West provides risks ending up in the hands of the jihadists.

The rebels, at least those backed by the West, cannot defeat Assad. Therefore, continuing to support them only adds to the level of violence without a realistic expectation of success.

We cannot do this by half measure. Trickling aid to some of the rebels does nothing. If the United States wants to alter the situation on the ground, it must sculpt a more comprehensive approach. The United States’ previous experience in supporting rebels against a dictator did not exactly turn out as planned in Libya, where anarchy has taken hold.

It was never clear how U.S. policy could at the same time support the non-al Qaeda rebels, weaken al Qaeda, and bring down Assad. It is not easy to see how this can be done now without a major military commitment.”

Source:Should the United States End Assistance to Syria’s Rebels? | RAND

Brian Michael Jenkins

Brian Michael Jenkins

The world’s leading authority on terrorism & sophisticated crime, Brian Michael Jenkins serves as the Senior Advisor to the President of the RAND Corporation. He is also the Director of the National Transportation Security Center at the Mineta Transportation Institute. From 1989 to 1998, Mr. Jenkins was the Deputy Chairman of Kroll Associates, an international investigative and consulting firm. Responsible for the firm’s crisis management practice, he directed the responses to kidnapping and extortion cases worldwide. Before that, he was Chairman of RAND’s Political Science Department where, from 1972 to 1989, he also directed RAND’s research on political violence.