|Well informed sources in the Russian foreign affairs confirmed the information that the Syrian opposition is ready to go into negotiations with the Syrian government without preconditions that President Assad should not be part of the process. The Russian sources say that opposition is displaying a more realistic approach after the recent achievements of the governments on both military and political levels.
US PLEDGES $60M TO SNC-FSA IN FINAL BID TO FORCE THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD ON THE SYRIAN PEOPLE
The US will provide the Syrian opposition with $60 million in aid, Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Thursday. The non-lethal assistance will include the delivery of food and medical supplies directly to the rebels for the first time.
“No nation, no people should live in fear of their so-called leaders,” Kerry said in a speech after attending a ‘Friends of Syria’ meeting in Rome.
The move aims to increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, and pave the way for a democratic transition, Kerry said, adding that the aid is intended to help the opposition govern newly liberated areas of Syria.
“For more than a year, the United States and our partners have called on Assad to heed the voice of the Syrian people and to halt his war machine,” Kerry said. “Instead, what we have seen is his brutality increase.”
But despite the ‘brutality’ comment, Kerry said that Washington will not provide weapons to opposition fighters. The news may be seen as a disappointing blow to anti-Assad forces, who have called for Western arms.
The decision to provide aid directly to the Syrian rebels represents a policy change within the Obama administration. Until now, the US has never directly delivered assistance to opposition fighters. “Given the stakes, the president will now extend food and medical supplies to the Syrian opposition, including the Supreme Military Council,” Kerry said.
US officials said the rations and medical supplies are to be distributed only to members of the Free Syrian Army; the aid will be delivered to the rebels through their military council.
Washington will also send technical advisers to the Syrian National Coalition offices in Cairo to oversee the aid distribution. The advisers will be from non-governmental organizations and other non-profit groups.
The US has already provided $385 million in humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians and $54 million in communications equipment, medical supplies, and other non-lethal assistance to the political opposition.
Syrian opposition leader Moaz Khatib also took to the podium after the meeting, pleading directly to Assad to step down.
“Bashar Assad, you have to behave as a human being for once in your life,” Khatib said. “Enough killing, enough slaughtering, enough arresting. Bashar, you need to make one reasonable [act] in your life time to save this country.”
“The regime has to go. We need to dismantle all the security apparatus,” Khatib said, adding that the Syrian government should be forced to establish humanitarian corridors to allow aid to reach the areas hardest hit by violence.
In a final statement after the Rome meeting, the Friends of Syria deplored the “unabated” arms supply to Assad, likely referring to Russia and Iran, countries viewed as Assad’s traditional allies.
The Thursday Friends of Syria meeting almost failed to materialize: Earlier this week, the Syrian opposition voiced frustration over the “shameful” failure of the international community to put an end to the country’s civil war by refusing to attend the talks.
The leaders finally agreed to attend, after Kerry and his British counterpart William Hague insisted the talks would discuss concrete steps forward.
Meanwhile, the European Union has amended sanctions on Syria to permit the supply of armored vehicles, non-lethal military equipment, and technical aid to the opposition, provided they are intended to protect civilians.
The new sanctions exempt “non-lethal military equipment or…equipment which might be used for internal repression,” and “non-combat vehicles…fitting with materials to provide ballistic protection.”
The decision comes after weeks of negotiations between EU states regarding the arms embargo on Syria. Some member nations were in favor of easing the embargo to help rebels, while others worried that allowing more arms into Syria could fuel the violence.
According to UN estimates, more than 70,000 Syrians have been killed in the nearly two-year-long uprising against President Assad. Some 860,000 Syrians have fled abroad, and several million others have been displaced within the country.
$60 million Syrian opposition aid attempt to ‘make it popular among the civilian population’
The US has for the first time provided direct aid to the rebel fighters in Syria. John Laughland, from the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, believes the move is an attempt to prop up a movement that has failed to take root among the Syrian people.
RT: The US is promising direct steps in aiding the rebels… Is this what the opposition wants? Is this help direct enough?
John Laughland: No they want arms, they want even more help. Nonetheless, it is a very significant intervention – $60 million should not be sneezed at, and what the Americans are trying to do is to prop us a project that so far has failed. If we look back to 2011, when Hilary Clinton was calling for the overthrow of Assad, they expected the regime in Syria to fall very quickly, and that hasn’t happened. However great the rebels’ gains may have been, the regime is still fighting back and it shows no signs of collapsing. Instead, it is the opposition that is fractured. Famously, the Syrian national Council is a ragbag of different interests, and one of the people speaking to John Kerry, Moaz al-Khatib, has of course called for direct negotiations with the Syrian government. So, the opposition is breaking up, and there are plenty of forces in the opposition, at least according to my sources in the region, who are bitterly disappointed with the West.
Rebels pray inside a cave in the village of Kfarruma in the flashpoint Syrian province of Idlib near the border with Turkey, on February 10, 2013. (AFP Photo/Daniel Leal-Olivas)
RT: Do you think that Washington isn’t offering more direct help because the opposition is divided?
JL: I think it’s a very significant development, because after all the ordinary Syrian population is suffering very greatly from this opposition, from this so-called liberation. These paramilitary groups cannot provide any basic services, they are not the state. They don’t run hospitals, they don’t run the police, they don’t run the water supply and so on. People are fleeing from the areas where these rebels are located. So as I say, this is an attempt to prop an opposition which is failing on its own terms. It’s an attempt to make it popular among the civilian population. And I am sure that many Syrians who watched the meeting in Rome, and who have seen al-Khatib and many others hobnobbing with John Kerry will draw the conclusion that the opposition is a Western puppet, and that will surely not be good for its image back home in Syria.
RT: Will this aid actually help the rebels win the war?
JL: I don’t know. I think that on paper, it is intended to make them more popular with the civilian population. We all know that arms can get to rebels and indeed are getting to rebels through indirect means, and that they are being funnelled there by American allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia. So, whether the United States itself is sending them is actually neither here nor there.
Syrian rebels gather under a bridge during shelling by regime forces in the northwestern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughur on January 25, 2013. (AFP Photo)
Ultimately, I do not think that a lack of weapons is their problem. Their problem is their lack of political consistency, the fact that they’ve made them unpopular in Syria itself, and that after all they are not a state, but a rebel group and that they can’t provide living conditions for the people who have come under their power.
In Strange Paradox, Kerry to Back Armed Groups and Speed Up political process
Feb 28, 2013
PARIS,(SANA)- In a strange paradox, US Secretary of State, John Kerry on Thursday expressed Washington’s desire to find means to speed up the political process which aims at ending the crisis in Syria, and its desire to help and back the armed terrorist groups in the country.
During a press conference with his French counterpart in Paris , Kerry said “The Syrian opposition is in need for more aids to reach areas inside Syria”, yet he didn’t specify the type of aid his country wants to provide after he said in London that Washington seeks to exert pressure on the Syrian Government to change what he called” its calculations on the ground”.
Kerry claimed that “Washington wants to provide consultation to the Syrian opposition on ways of stepping up a political dialogue that would be the best way of stopping the bloodshed and of protecting the interests of the Syrians.”
At the same time, American media sources said that the USA is planning to send military vehicles and armors to the armed groups in Syria and to provide the military training to them.
He added that this requires changing what he called “the current calculations of President Bashar al-Assad”, adding “We are in need for convincing him of this, and I think that the opposition is in need for more help to be able to achieve this issue.”
Kerry neglected any stance that helps the political dialogue, and he only promised to back the armed groups in a way that encourages them to continue their criminal acts of killing, terrifying the innocent citizens, and destroying the governmental institutions.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
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