The Administration of Barack Obama is so dedicated to the idea of getting involved in Syria’s civil war, despite domestic and international objection to the U.S. meddling in the conflict, that it is willing not only to waive provisions of Federal law prohibiting the arming of terrorists but also to put its hypocrisy on full display.
Even as Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are working on a deal to force Syrian President Bashar Assad to surrender his chemical weapons stockpiles to the international community in return for the assurance that the U.S. will not strike the Syrian government, the Federal government has made moves to ensure its ability to ship supplies to rebels in the Mideast nation.
The President announced earlier in the week that he would “waive the prohibitions in sections 40 and 40A” of the Arms Export Control Act in order to provide assistance to Syrian rebels.
Those sections, which the President can waive if he “determines that the transaction is essential to the national security interests of the United States,” prohibit sending weaponry to countries:
“For purposes of this subsection, such acts shall include all activities that the Secretary determines willfully aid or abet the international proliferation of nuclear explosive devices to individuals or groups or willfully aid or abet an individual or groups in acquiring unsafeguarded special nuclear material,” reads subsection 40(d).
The Obama Administration contends that the provision was waived in order to provide “chemical weapons-related assistance” to “select vetted members” of the Syrian opposition forces.
“This action will allow the U.S. Government to provide . . . where appropriate, certain non-lethal assistance inside or related to Syria,” related to surviving chemical weapons attacks, according to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
“This action is part of longstanding and ongoing efforts to provide life-saving chemical weapons-related assistance to people in need in Syria,” Hayden also said.
While the Administration claims that the action will apply only to chemical weapons survival equipment, the sections waived by the President could also apply to lethal munitions.
And some reports indicate U.S. munitions may have already begun making their way into rebel hands.
Via Reuters last week:
The United States is providing lethal assistance “because they are sure that the mechanisms that the SMC has established are well tested and they will be sure that the weapons are not falling into the wrong hands,” [a spokesman for the Syrian Coalition of groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad] said.
He apparently referred to Washington’s concerns that U.S. arms could end up benefiting radical Islamist groups, such as the al Nusra Front, active in northern Syria.
[The] comments at a Washington news conference may be the first public indication that U.S.-provided military goods such as arms or ammunition are actually moving to anti-Assad forces.
One U.S. government source said it was “unlikely” that any U.S.-supplied arms were on the ground in the hands of Syrian rebels at this time, while not dismissing the possibility that such aid was in the works.
Under section 40(g) of the AECA, Obama must provide Congress 15 days’ notice before handing supplies over to the rebels along with “the name of any country involved in the proposed transaction, the identity of any recipient of the items to be provided pursuant to the proposed transaction, and the anticipated use of the items.”
If the Obama Administration has already begun — or if it plans — to provide munitions to Syrian rebels, it is willing to arm terrorists. There are reports that indicate “half the rebels fighting to topple the Iranian-backed Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad are either diehard al-Qaida jihadists or hardline Islamists.” There are reports of horrible atrocities being carried out by the Syrian rebel groups with no regard to the Geneva Conventions. And there is evidence that people with different ideological leanings than the majority of the rebel faction are doomed to suffer if the opposition is victorious.
Obama has based his steadfast support of the Syrian rebels on reports that Assad has resorted to using chemical weapons to quell the uprising. According to The New York Times on Monday, a “United Nations report … confirmed that a deadly chemical arms attack caused a mass killing in Syria last month and for the first time provided extensive forensic details of the weapons used, which strongly implicated the Syrian government.”
But there is still some international skepticism, mainly from Russia, that the world can be 100 percent sure the Syrian government was responsible for the attacks.
“We want the events of the 21st of August to be impartially, objectively, professionally investigated,” Lavrov said Tuesday, noting that the Syrian regime’s claim that rebels launched the poison gas attack should not be dismissed.
The Obama Administration’s silence with regard to possible atrocities carried out at the hands of Syrian rebels and the lack of explanation about how the U.S. leadership plans to address the heavy extremist influence over the group it could possibly end up arming should be alarming to any observer. It should also highlight a bit of hypocrisy on the part of the Obama Administration.
For months, the President and top Administration officials have been pushing the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty on the American people, much to the annoyance of 2nd Amendment supporters who see the treaty as a possible way to abrogate certain American gun rights.
In June, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “The Treaty is an important contribution to efforts to stem the illicit trade in conventional weapons, which fuels conflict, empowers violent extremists, and contributes to violations of human rights. The Treaty will require the parties to implement strict controls, of the kind the United States already has in place, on the international transfer of conventional arms to prevent their diversion and misuse and create greater international cooperation against black market arms merchants. The ATT will not undermine the legitimate international trade in conventional weapons, interfere with national sovereignty, or infringe on the rights of American citizens, including our Second Amendment rights.
“We look forward to signing it as soon as the process of conforming the official translations is completed satisfactorily,” Kerry’s statement continued.
Taken together, all this information leaves the average American with quite a head scratcher: If conservatives hadn’t been going to great pains in recent months to encourage lawmakers to stop the United States from signing the treaty out of fear for the 2nd Amendment, would that very treaty hamstring the Nobel Peace Prize-winning President who advocated its signing from putting weapons directly into the hands of people who will use them to fuel conflict, empower violent extremists and contribute to violations of human rights?