The Syrian Opposition Coalition president meets with Pentagon officials Monday and will be at the White House Tuesday.
Today is Day 1,152 of the Syria conflict. The above photo shows children in Aleppo, whose residents have been without water for eight days after Al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front — one of many groups fighting against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad — cut off the supply to both rebel-held and regime-held areas of the city. Activists have now told The Daily Star that water returned to the rebel-held eastern section of the city Monday.
A delegation from the Syrian Opposition Coalition is in Washington this week, scheduled for meetings at the Pentagon Monday and at the White House Tuesday. (President Obama is “expected to ‘drop by.'”) The coalition president Ahmed Jarba told The Wall Street Journal Sunday that he will ask the US to give rebels the manpads they have been wanting for ages. The weapons will allow the opposition to shoot down regime planes that have dropped barrel bombs and chlorine gas on Syrian towns in recent months. The US has been slow to provide them because if the manpads got into the wrong hands, they could do a whole lot of damage to civilian planes as well.
Nevertheless, Secretary of John State reportedly told members of the delegation that the international community “wasted a year” in Syria by not coordinating efforts and more effectively funneling aid and weapons to the opposition. The Daily Beast reported these comments Monday morning.
Kerry may have been feeling frustrated because Iranian officials were slapping US foreign policy around in The Guardian on Sunday, saying that Assad, whom Shia-dominated Iran has supported partly for sectarian reasons, has won the war against the rebels.
“We won the game in Syria easily,” one conservative Iranian strategist told the paper. “The US does not understand Syria.”
Several of those interviewed pointed to the lack of a viable alternative to Assad, and said the US had only encouraged chaos and the growth of radical rebel groups. “I think the Americans made a big mistake in Syria and I think they know it, although they would never say so,” a university professor chimed in.
“If they had accepted the Annan plan in 2012 [which would have left Assad in place pending a ceasefire and internationally monitored elections] we could have avoided all this.”
“Iran sincerely believed it had no other option but to support the Assad government. Anything else would have resulted in the collapse of Syria and it falling into the hands of extremists,” he said.
The conflict continues.