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Washington Post: Syrian Rebels Get ‘the Jilt’ From Washington

Author: David Ignatius
July 17, 2013


What's happening in Syria isn't a pretty sight, as the moderates struggle to survive without the expected Western aid.

One of the worst recurring features of U.S. foreign policy is a process that might bluntly be described as "seduction and abandonment." Now it's happening in Syria.

The seduction part begins with an overeager rhetorical embrace. Nearly two years ago, on Aug. 18, 2011, President Obama first proclaimed, "The time has come for President Assad to step aside." He didn't back up his call for regime change with any specific plan, but this hasn't stopped him from repeating the "Assad must go" theme regularly ever since.

The next stage is a prolonged courtship with ever-deeper implied promises and commitments. The CIA began working with the Syrian opposition in 2011 and has been providing training and other assistance. When the Syrian opposition was wooed by other suitors (say, Turkey and Qatar), the United States chased those rivals away with renewed avowals of affection.

Then comes the formal engagement. On June 13, the White House announced it would provide military aid to the Syrian opposition because the Assad regime had crossed a "red line" by using chemical weapons. The rebels began preparing warehouses to receive the promised shipments — hopeful that at last the United States was serious about its intentions.

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