"The Administration has given the Syrian opposition more than six hundred and fifty million dollars in nonmilitary aid, but Obama has consistently opposed arming the rebels or intervening militarily on their behalf. The United States has taken a tenuous position: not deep enough to please the rebels or its allies in Europe, or to topple the regime, or to claim leadership in the war's aftermath—but also, perhaps most important, not so deep that it can't get out."
Asked by Jake C., from University of Texas at Tyler
A number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Qatar, have been providing support to the opposition in various forms, ranging from humanitarian aid to military supplies, such as weapons, armor, and communication devices. However, these efforts have not been enough to turn the tide, and after three years of fighting, a diplomatic solution still seems unlikely.
In light of recent reports of chemical weapons being used against Syrian civilians, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon highlights frustrations felt by some State Department employees at the lack of response from the White House.
The UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was passed on March 28, 2013, and seeks to regulate and limit trade in arms in circumstances of human rights violations. Unfortunately, it will have minimal effect on the Syrian conflict. Syria's own vote against the treaty, along with Iran's and North Korea's, sounded the death knell for a universally applicable treaty to limit small arms, ammunition, and conventional weapons technology.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel held a press conference in Abu Dhabi to wrap up his five day trip to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. He discussed U.S. intelligence on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Asked by Elias El Mrabet, from Universite Libre de Bruxelles
Russia today may have less influence in the Middle East than previously, but it continues to have a stake in the region's stability and sees it as an area in which it has important national interests, often at variance with U.S. goals and objectives.
Asked by Bashayar Ghasab, from Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus
Yes and no. Because of sectarian differences between the Iranian government and the Sunni Salafi fighters in the Syrian opposition, Iran's influence becomes weakened at first sight if the Syrian opposition wins. But the Iranian regime can (and has) created common cause with Sunni radicals in the recent past. History shows that this would not be the first time an unlikely alliance between opposing groups has formed.
Asked by Igbinosa Ojehomon, from Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus Author: Robert M. Danin
The United States' policy toward a post-Assad Syria would largely depend on what political scenario results. A victory by unified rebel forces would generate a vastly different policy than a new govenrnment that includes jihadists. In the more likely event that post-Assad Syria descends into greater sectarian violence, Washington would urge regional partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia to exert influence with those rebel groups to which they had provided arms and ammunition.
A group of foreign ministers met with the leader of the Syrian National Coalition, Sheikh Moaz al Khatib, in Rome for the fourth Friends of the Syria conference on February 28, 2013. They released this final statement announcing "increased political and material support to the Syrian National Coalition."
Secretary John Kerry and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave these remarks before their meeting on February 14, 2013. They outlined the main issues they would discuss: North Korea's nuclear test and Six Party Talks, negotiations with Iran, the crisis in Syria, and France's intervention in Mali.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey held this press conference on January 10, 2013. They discussed Afghan President Karzai's visit, defense sequestration, and possible chemical weapons in Syria.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The author examines Pakistan's complex role in U.S. foreign policy and advocates for a two-pronged approach that works to quarantine threats while integrating Pakistan into the broader U.S. agenda in Asia.