U.S. to Assad Regime: Engage in Negotiations or We Will Further Support the Rebels

By:  Raven Clabough
05/15/2013
       
U.S. to Assad Regime: Engage in Negotiations or We Will Further Support the Rebels

Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Assad government that if the regime will not negotiate a transition, the United States will increase aid to the rebels.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (shown in photo) continues to pledge support to the Syrian rebels even as they continue to engage in questionable behavior. On Tuesday, Kerry issued a warning to the Syrian government that a lack of negotiations on the part of Assad’s regime will result in the United States providing the rebels with further help.

Appearing in Stockholm, Sweden, Kerry addressed speculations that Assad officials will refuse to attend an upcoming international conference wherein negotiations are expected to take place regarding a peaceful transition in Syria.

“If he decides not to come to the table it will be another one of President Assad’s gross miscalculations. Now I don’t believe that that is the case at this moment,” Kerry told reporters. “ If President Assad decides to miscalculate again about that, as he has miscalculated about his own country’s future over the course of the last years, it is clear the opposition will be receiving additional support, there will be additional efforts made and unfortunately the violence will not end.”

Kerry was not specific about the type of additional support he was pledging, though experience indicates it will involve money and further training.

Last month, the Obama administration pledged to provide $123 million in aid, which may include armored vehicles, body armor, and other defensive military supplies.

Secretary Kerry announced the pledge in a written statement and urged other foreign backers to make similar pledges.

Kerry also indicated that the U.S. would work with the Syrian opposition to determine how the money is spent, and added that Washington would also provide $25 million in additional food aid.

"Today, it's safe to say that we are really at a critical moment," Kerry said last month. "The stakes in Syria couldn't be more clear: Chemical weapons, the slaughter of people by ballistic missiles and other weapons of huge destruction. The potential of a whole country, a beautiful country with great people, being torn apart and perhaps breaking up into enclaves (with the) potential of sectarian violence which this region knows there is too much of.“

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Photo of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry: AP Images

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