US move on Syria risky

Updated: 2013-03-04 07:51

(China Daily)

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By pledging direct aid to the Syrian opposition, the United States has sent mixed signals to the world about how it seeks to resolve the two-year-old crisis in Syria. One thing is certain, though, that the US move will hinder the international efforts underway to restore peace in Syria.

Speaking in Rome on Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would give food and medical supplies to the opposition coalition in Syria and provide it an extra $60 million in non-lethal help to rebuild and offer assistance in "liberated areas of Syria".

The US has already provided $50 million in aid to the Syrian opposition through Turkey, which include communications equipment. So the direct US aid to the Syrian rebels is widely seen as a significant shift in Washington's policy toward the Syrian conflict.

The US' latest move, it seems, is aimed at realizing a regime change in Syria with the help of the rebels. If this is the case, it certainly is different from what the international community has inferred from the remarks of newly appointed senior US officials on how Washington would tackle global challenges, which include the Syrian crisis.

After being sworn in as US defense secretary on Wednesday, Chuck Hagel said Washington cannot "dictate" to the world and instead should engage it. In February, Kerry after assuming the post of US secretary of state, vowed to resolve global conflicts through peaceful means.

Both officials sounded as if the US would join the international efforts to push for dialogue between belligerent parties in Syria and support the political process.

But helping the Syrian rebels is definitely not a move toward resolving the crisis peacefully and contrary to the efforts of a majority of the international community.

The mixed messages the US move has sent will embolden those keen on toppling the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which will result in more bloodshed in the country. It will also increase the uncertainties for international negotiators mediating peace, who for the first time have pushed the Syrian government and the opposition toward the negotiating table.

(China Daily 03/04/2013 page9)