National Security Brief: Report Says U.S. Will Arm Syrian Rebels

American officials said, according to the New York Times, said the U.S will soon begin supplying Syrian rebels with light weapons and ammunition.

The White House said yesterday that it has confirmed the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against opposition forces. “The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” said a White House statement released on Thursday.

According to the Times, “The officials held out the possibility that the assistance, coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency, could include antitank weapons, but they said that for now supplying the antiaircraft weapons that rebel commanders have said they sorely need is not under consideration.”

While the Wall Street Journal reported that the military’s plan to arm the rebels includes the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria 25 miles inward from the Jordanian border, but the the White House has reportedly ruled that out.


In other news:

  • The House passed an amendment to the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act supporting an accelerated U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and expressing the sense of Congress that any post-2014 U.S. military action there would require further Congressional authorization.
  • The Hill lists other amendments included in the bill, including a measure to restrict any taxpayer funds to upgrade the Guantanamo Bay prison.
  • The New York Times reports: After meeting for several hours with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his home in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, protest organizers whose fight to save an Istanbul park set off a political crisis emerged early Friday with what they called a tentative agreement that could end the civil unrest that has roiled the country for nearly two weeks.
  • Iranians go to the polls today to elect a new president. Addressing American skepticism about the election’s legitimacy, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out. To hell with you if you do not believe in our election! If the Iranian nation had to wait for you to see what you believe in and what you do not, then the Iranian nation would have lagged behind.”
  • And finally, Global Zero, a group that aims to rid the world of nuclear weapons, launched a new campaign this week ahead of the G-8 meetings in Northern Ireland next week “urging President Obama to set the world’s course to zero nuclear weapons by negotiating further cuts in the massive U.S.-Russian Cold War stockpiles and bringing other leading nuclear powers into international nuclear arms negotiations for the first time in history.” The group enlisted a number of high-profile artists, actors and celebrities to its cause. Watch the group’s new video: