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An international coalition gathered in Istanbul to address the situation in Syria has decided today that it will begin funding rebels and providing them with communications equipment. The multi-million-dollar fund, backed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countires, will pay members of the Free Syrian Army in their efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. They also hope to lure away defectors from his army with the money.
At a stump speech at the 70-nation Friends of Syria summit, Hillary Clinton warned of "serious consequences" if al-Assad does not adhere to Kofi Annan's cease-fire plan, MSNBC reports: "Nearly a week has gone by, and we have to conclude that the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises," she said. Clinton also pledged another $12 million to the cause, bringing the total amount of U.S. aid spent on the Syrian rebellion to $25 million.
Annan's plan, which al-Assad agreed to last week, calls for a cease-fire, humanitarian aid for Syrian citizens, and a democratic political referendum. There have been daily reports of violence since.
The training mission, already under way, represents the deepest American involvement yet in the Syrian conflict, though the size and scope of the mission is not clear, nor is its host country. The offer of nonlethal assistance is expected to come from Secretary of State John Kerry at a meeting on Thursday in Rome with opposition leaders. Mr. Kerry is also expected to raise the prospect of direct financial aid, though officials cautioned that the White House still had to sign off on all the elements.
One major goal of the administration is to help the opposition build up its credibility within Syria by providing traditional government services to the civilian population. Since the conflict erupted two years ago, the United States has sent $365 million in humanitarian aid to Syrians. American officials have been increasingly worried that extremist members of the resistance against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, notably the Al Nusra Front, which the United States has asserted is affiliated with Al Qaeda, will take control of portions of Syria and cement its authority by providing public services, much as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon.
Kerry’s announcement came after Syrian opposition forces almost skipped a meeting out of anger that the Obama administration isn't doing enough to assist them. The opposition leaders, though, were persuaded to attend by Ford.
The aid is on top of a previously announced $385 million in humanitarian aid and more than $50 million to help the Syrian activists “organize opposition efforts across the country” by improving their ability to communicate with each other and to broadcast a “message of hope across their country.”
Ambassador: US providing $114 million in aid to Syrian rebels
The Obama administration is providing the Syrian opposition with $114 million in aid, more than previously revealed, to help topple Bashar Assad, U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford told Congress on Wednesday.
Ford briefed House appropriators in a closed-door hearing following Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement last month that America would provide $60 million in direct food and medicine assistance to the Syrian Opposition Coalition. The aid, Ford said, is in addition to $54 million in communications gear and other aid already offered to “disparate Syrian opposition groups across the country to build a network of ethnically and religiously diverse civilian activist."
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has said that the United States would double its non-lethal aid to opposition forces in Syria to $250m.
Kerry on Sunday stopped short of a US pledge to supply weapons to rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
He said, however, that the rebels' foreign backers were committed to continuing support and had decided to channel all future aid through the opposition Supreme Military Council.
Kerry added that "there would have to be further announcements about the kind of support that might be in the days ahead" if Syrian government forces failed to pursue a peaceful solution.
Speaking after a meeting of the Syrian opposition and its 11 main foreign supporters in Istanbul, Kerry said the United States would provide an additional $123m in non-lethal assistance to the rebels, bringing the total of this kind of US help to $250m.
Kerry urged other foreign backers to make similar pledges of assistance with the goal of reaching $1bn in total international support.
(Reuters) - U.S. senators, including some of President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats, pushed the White House on Thursday to shift its policy and provide lethal military assistance to rebels waging a civil war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"Nearly a week has gone by, and we have to conclude that the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises," she said. Clinton also pledged another $12 million to the cause, bringing the total amount of U.S. aid spent on the Syrian rebellion to $25 million.
1. a mode or system of rule or government: a dictatorial regime.
2. a ruling or prevailing system.
3. a government in power.
4. the period during which a particular government or ruling system is in power.
A crude oil embargo placed on Syria by EU member states has been eased in a move that will allow the purchase of the natural resource from areas held by groups opposing the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
Foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg today said the decision to allow European companies to import crude oil from the opposition will “help the civilian population”.
The main Syrian opposition alliance, the National Coalition, will have to approve each transaction, and it is thought oil will have to be transported by tanker to Turkey and Iraq. But analysts believe security concerns and badly-damaged infrastructure will complicate the process.
In the meantime President Obama is set to announce a further $300 million in new humanitarian aid to Syria, which will bring the total of US aid during the two-year civil war there to over $800 million. A little less than half of the new aid package will go to Syria itself, with the rest being sent to neighboring countries harboring Syrian refugees, the White House said on Monday.