Friday, March 01, 2013

Good Cop

We are going to send non-lethal--but valuable--assistance to Syrian rebels. Good.

I guess we aren't worried about making the situation worse given how bad it has gotten without us. We will send aid to rebels in Syria:

The United States plans to provide medical supplies and food to Syrian fighters, a policy shift to directly help those battling President Bashar al-Assad's forces on the ground, sources familiar with the matter said.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States continues to oppose providing lethal assistance and said it also will not provide such items as bullet-proof vests, armored-personnel vehicles and military training for now.

One source said the United States was also expected to announce a large increase in assistance to the Syrian National Coalition, the main civilian opposition group.

I'm fine with this since I am reasonably sure that we are involved with the recent Croatian arms shipments that Saudi Arabia is funneling to non-jihadi rebels--after seeing jihadis getting more arms than the people more friendly to us. We can afford to formally not want to send in arms knowing that someone is arming the people we are sending assistance to.

The rebels are gnawing away at Assad's forces, and are even clinging to positions around Damascus that the government's forces haven't been able to eject them from:

Rebel forces have dug in to the north, east and south of Syria's capital, occupying stretches of suburban and rural terrain and threatening to break through to the heart of Damascus.

Government troops have largely pulled back to a well-defended core, including the city center and loyal bastions to the west.

Assad is begging for a collapse of his army by holding out in Aleppo and Damascus. Assad has too few troops to defend that much territory. If his army collapses, prospects for holding the Alawite core areas will diminish greatly.

And prospects for helping rebels less likely to be a threat to us win the post-Assad phase have gone up with our recent moves. I'll count this as actual smart diplomacy. So I give credit to the administration for this. No guarantees of success, of course. But at least we are trying to shape events to benefit us or at least avoid the worst. Even just being the good cop means we decided to be a police officer, so to speak.