Syrian Exiles Lead Call to Arm the Opposition
|May 17, 2012|
The following article was taken from the National Journal, to view the original, click here.
Five years after being jailed, beaten, and tortured by government forces as a student in Damascus, Ahed al-Hendi is a Syrian dissident in the U.S. calling for Washington to arm the opposition fighting President Bashar al-Assad and his forces.
“We want it to be peaceful,” said Hendi, a member of the Syrian American Council, an organization that promotes civil liberties in Syria. “But all indicators on the ground show that nothing will stop this regime [except] an intervention or military.”
Some Syrians living in exile in the U.S., like Hendi, with the support of hawkish policy makers in Washington, are calling on the Obama administration to change its policy and provide weapons to the Syrian opposition. But even within the Syrian community, there is debate as to the level of U.S. military aid. Some want arms, while others have gone further, calling for a no-fly zone protected by Western, Turkish, or Arab warplanes.
Despite a United Nations peace agreement that was to send as many as 300 observers to the wartorn nation of 23 million, end fighting, and establish a dialogue between Assad and the opposition, violence has been unrelenting, and hundreds have died since the accord was reached. This past week, Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who brokered the agreement, said he was concerned that Syria would descend into a full-scale civil war.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., has called for setting up safe zones inside Syria, while also providing support to the opposition, reports Foreign Policy. He would not rule out the use of U.S.- or NATO-led air strikes if the killings continued. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has also called....
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