Arab Nations Poised to Arm Syrian Rebels
But US worries about protracted civil war
By Mary Papenfuss, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2012 3:15 AM CST
Updated Mar 2, 2012 3:34 AM CST
A masked Free Syrian Army officer, who defected from the Syrian Army, sits in a Free Syrian Army centre on March 1, 2012 in Qusayr. AFP PHOTO/ GIANLUIGI GUERCIA   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Members of the Arab League signaled this week that they're about to arm Syrian rebels. But American officials fear that strategy will thwart their more cautious approach, and could fuel a bloody, protracted civil war. Saudi Arabia and Qatar aim to aid the opposition "as soon as they can," said a source, while Kuwait's parliament has called on the government to provide rebels with weapons. “People are more and more frustrated, and are coming to the conclusion that diplomatic efforts are not enough in light of continuing abuse by the regime," an Arab diplomat tells the Washington Post.

But Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman warned: "It's not clear to us that arming people right now will either save lives or lead to the demise of Assad's regime." Still, Arab leaders are convinced the US won't protest too much as they move ahead. “I don’t think anyone will stand up and scream” against weapons shipments, the Arab diplomat said. The opposition Syrian National Council has announced the formation of a defense council that will organize rebel forces under a single command. The changes come just as Syrian rebels have fled the Baba Amr district of Homs. The Red Cross hopes to move in trucks today to deliver much-needed food and medical supplies to Homs after a month-long siege, reports the BBC.

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Showing 3 of 26 comments
Mar 2, 2012 7:34 AM CST
The US needs to butt out of these decisions.
Mar 2, 2012 6:45 AM CST
WHAT - The US (CIA), and NATO countries, have been arming and supplying ammunition's to the Syrian rebels from day one, in their riots, and uprising against Assad. -- The US (CIA) and NATO countries used the non-Democratic Arab Muslim Kings and Emirs, of the Gulf States to arm the rebels. -- YOU would have to be a complete idiot to believe they weren't. -- The US and NATO countries are responsible for most of all the chaos, madness, and violence, and innocent deaths , in the world today. --- CRAZY? --- What country has troops, and covert operations, all over the world? --- ONLY one, AMERICA. --- America has become the aggressor country of all countries since WW-2, and is attacking other countries with attacks, and covert operations, like a rabid dog gone mad. --- America, what has happened to America? --- Have we all gone mad? --- Blame the ONE in Washington that's leads from behind, I say. ------ REALLY
Mar 2, 2012 5:25 AM CST
"But American officials fear that strategy will thwart their more cautious approach..." It's time there was an 'Arab League approach' to this. This 'fear' the American officials have is rooted more in their concern for the costs the turmoil will cause rather than the fact that it will be 'bloody'.