Israel wary about possibility of U.S. arming Syrian rebels
May 1st, 2013
06:25 PM ET

Israel wary about possibility of U.S. arming Syrian rebels

By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

Israel is asking the Obama administration not to arm Syrian rebels unless it can carefully screen them to ensure no weapons would fall into the hands of terrorists groups, the Israeli ambassador to the United States tells CNN.

"If it were decided to provide lethal assistance, we ask those groups be carefully vetted," Ambassador Michael Oren said Wednesday. He declined to offer specifics but broadly indicated the matter has come up in recent weeks - in the general time frame of visits to Israel by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Neighboring Jordan and Turkey have expressed similar concerns.

U.S. officials believe that a number of militant groups - including the al-Nusra Front, an al Qaeda-linked group - as well as Iranian-backed militias and Hezbollah units are operating in Syria and have even infiltrated the opposition.

The Israelis are particularly concerned that al-Nusra now controls territory near the Israeli border, where it would pose a threat if it gained control of rockets and mortars that might be initially supplied to the opposition.

In making its case to the White House, Israel has also pointed out that after thousands of Libyan weapons went uncontrolled as that regime fell, many turned up in the Sinai and Gaza regions within days, posing a threat to Israel.

U.S. officials have maintained that all options for Syria are on the table but have privately indicated arming the rebels is not something likely to be decided upon soon, in part because of the opposition from neighboring countries.

A senior U.S. official tells CNN that U.S. intelligence personnel have been conducting some "vetting" of opposition forces in Jordan and Turkey, but that mainly is being to facilitate the receipt of non-lethal aid and to conduct some limited training.

Filed under: Israel • Syria
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Long Chrisjohn

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  7. extra resources

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    May 24, 2013 at 5:36 am | Reply
  8. rockybruce2013

    I agree with Israel giving weapons to the rebels is a vote for Al-Qaeda.

    May 21, 2013 at 5:49 am | Reply
  9. new_york_loner

    So, once again the Israeli PM is acting as the functional US a fawning vassal, Obama will do as he is told....or else.

    May 4, 2013 at 1:24 am | Reply
  10. Larry

    Remember, all Arabs love death and revenge. It was the Palestinians who danced and sang in the streets to celebrate the attack of 9/11. Israel is our only friend in that part of the world. Unlike the Arabs with their martyrs, the people of Israel have a Western mind which means they think like us.

    May 2, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Reply
    • frank

      Our infallible leaders seem to forget that those we arm today shoot at us tomorrow.

      May 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • Nambi

      What in ignorant and idiotic statement there almost 1/2 Billion Arabs in the world some so wealthy they spend more on their cars then you do in your house. To fabricate such an idiotic statement of hate claiming they "love death" truly show the lack of intelligence and understanding you have on Arabs. Ignorance such as you display IS the problem.

      May 3, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  11. Jocho Johnson

    Even Israel doesn't want to arm the Syrian "rebels", time for McCain and Kerry to stifle themselves already

    May 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  12. Pete

    It's funny how Netanyahus Isreal is opposed to the US arming Syrian rebels against Assad..Did we screen Netanyahus people before arming them with jets and other eccential weapons of war and why can't the chosen ones in Isreal keep to themselves..Everyone's a threat to Isreal and if they weren't so arrogent and obnoxious as a puney country they wouldn't have to worry about everybody elses business would they...Just tell Netanyahus Isreal to back off unless they as Isreal,Pakistan and others want their foriegn aid cut because we don't benefit from them that much and if that's a problem let the wealthy Jews in Adelson and others that live here fund Isreal out of their own pockets..It's their choice and if it was up to me I'd cut the foriegn aid anyway,the only thing we get from them is only grief and its gotta stop sometime.You know we need that money just as well here to help benefit America ,its our money right,let us put it to good use here!!!

    May 2, 2013 at 9:32 am | Reply
    • SayanIndia

      @ Pete,

      Do take account of the fact that without Israel’s robust presence in the Middle East, both United States and British foreign policy in the region will collapse in matter of days.


      May 2, 2013 at 10:30 am | Reply
      • Pete

        @sayan,and do you think for a moment that Netanyahu,Assad or any other leader in the middle east gives a crap about our policies over there right now,I don't think so!If its war they want than let them have it and if its war than Al Qaeda will be busy just defending themselves there just to survive right in a war on their own turf..Cut the foriegn aid and put it to good use here where its evident that's its tax payers here need it just as well!!

        May 6, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Thinker23

      It's even more funny that some mentally disturber among us do not realize that Al Qaeda is a threat to BOTH Israel and the US and that, therefore, it makes little sense for the US to arm its enemies?

      May 2, 2013 at 11:38 am | Reply
      • Pete

        @Thinker23,I hope your comment wasn't aimed at me..But remember bud we're arming them already giving them foriegn aid to buy there weapons ,right!!

        May 10, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Grafted Oil Branch

      Israel was vetted very well and found to be true to western values.

      May 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Reply
      • Grafted Oilive Branch

        Israel was vetted very well and found to be true to western values.

        May 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • juanmoretime

      First of all it is "Israel" not Isreal" and it is the only friend we have in the middle east. You say to cut off their foreign aid, remember american jews also pay taxes and yes they contribute a great deal to this country. If we abandon Israel, what comes afterward? The arabs are not our friends, hell they don't even like each other.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Reply
      • massoud

        Ben Bernake has contributed nothing to the interest rate on my savings account yet he has enriched corrupt Banksters on Wall Street.Ben Shalom Bernanke is a parasite who's host is the American Taxpayer.

        May 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
      • Thinker23

        Massoud... Ben Bernanke's jonb is to make sure that the financial system in the United States is stable and secure. It's YOUR job to add funds to your savings account. Still, if you have a problem with Bernanke take him to court. This discussion, however, is about Israel being wary about arming Syrian rebels.

        May 3, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • frank

      Before we condemn Israel for being arrogant and obnoxious , we may want to look at how our politicians (not us as Americans) act toward other countries. Israel is just trying to survive.

      May 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Reply
    • Nambi

      Israel uses USA made and Paid for chemical white phosphorous on Gaza civilians then cry foul and worry when Syrians are armed with guns. USA how about you DON'T ARM ANYONE! worry about yourself and close your 150+ bases in foreign countries our country is going bankrupt worry about our own.

      May 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  13. D

    Why worry? Look how well it worked for sadam and bin laden. It's going to create an economy for us later through military intervention and wonderful defense contracts. After all, it's what make washinton, washington

    May 2, 2013 at 9:28 am | Reply
  14. helenecha

    Isn’t al-Assad regime horrible enough? Whether Israel usually calls the regime one of the terrorist groups in Syria or not? Isn’t arming Syrian rebels more essential than knowing them right now?

    May 2, 2013 at 4:12 am | Reply
    • USMC1371

      Todays rebels is tomorrows terrorist

      May 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  15. 100%American

    PetroDollar, we will not stop until we control all the oil to ensure that it is sold only in U.S. Dollars, if we don't keep the oil sold in U.S. Dollars our Economy would fall over like someone having a fatal aneurysm!

    May 2, 2013 at 2:43 am | Reply
  16. michael frontera

    Son of a biotch Gonzoinhouston! Life is never as simple as just "bombing a few bases." i have no experience myself but come on! i say you need to get a reality check and do your homework. obviously some people 'ahem' need to think before typing. or consider a different field of interest.

    May 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  17. GonzoinHouston

    The Syrian resistance is now a witches' brew of patriots, terrorists, Al-Qaida, Islamists, mercenaries, Taliban, several countries' spies, and a sprinkling of stone crazies. The only thing they have in common is a desire to overthrow Assad, and when that's over they will turn on one another and make Beirut look like Central Park. It doesn't matter who we give weapons to; they will be traded, bought or stolen within days. If we're going to get involved, send a carrier and take out their Air Force and bomb a few bases. And that's IT.

    May 1, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      You nailed it witches brew.If its possible and it wont happen get with the Russians and somehow secure the chem. and bio. weapons.Then let them have at it.Dont send nothing at all and Russia do the same let it play out.Anything we do will blow up in our faces and they will turn on us and blame us as usual.If we go in there and stabilize the area any surviving military faction will just resurface.There is no answer and we will waste money and lives.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:59 am | Reply
    • Joe

      To shut down their Air Force need to stop all aircraft parts getting in and knock out the hydraulic rebuild shops and tire shops for aircraft.Aircraft are extremely high maintenance.They will be down to one aircraft in a matter of a few weeks.Hit the aircraft AGE yards also.No generators, hydraulic mules, no servicing carts, No airforce.You cant turn a jet you cant be effective.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:49 am | Reply
  18. John Geheran

    Israel is not alone here. I too am quite wary about this country arming those riff raft in Syria even though they do plan to establish some kind of pro-Western "democracy" there. We need to take a total hands off approach when it comes to Syria as we have no business there!

    May 1, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Do you REALLY believe that someone is THAT stupid as to "plan to establish some kind of pro-Western "democracy" there"?

      May 2, 2013 at 11:43 am | Reply
  19. funguseater

    I wonder if anyone consulted the Arab states before arming Israel with Nuclear Weapons?

    May 1, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Reply
    • USMC1371

      Well no and why would they consult people that want us dead because we don't pray to their false profit?

      May 1, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Reply
    • Pete

      @funguseater,remember also Isreal never signed the nuclear non proliferation treaty as well as India,Pakistan and others,we did with Russia though..So Isreal as the chosen ones have to quit being so hypocrital of others when its they that are as bad about following rules as others!!

      May 2, 2013 at 9:53 am | Reply
      • Thinker23

        If and when the Arab states, Iran and other enemies of Israel will convince Israelis that it is safe to do Israel will gladly sign the non-proliferation treaty. Until now, however, they've done everything possible to convince Israelis that only the military power of Israel (including nuclear weapons) can guarantee relative safety and stability in the Middle East.

        May 2, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Thinker23

      "I wonder if anyone consulted the Arab states before arming Israel with Nuclear Weapons?"

      Absolutely! The Arab states said that if there were no Israeli nukes they would try to destroy Israel (again) as they've done in 1947, 1967 and 1973. As a matter of fact, the Arabs living in these states should be grateful because Israeli nukes save millions of Arab lives.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:46 am | Reply
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        May 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Nambi

      Israel has proven they want Arabs dead look at all the hateful posts from the pro-Israel mob. Time for Arabs to get their own nuclear protection.

      May 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Reply

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