US now looks to bring down Assad regime
The bombing that killed 4 of President Assad's top aides appear to have convinced the Obama administration to abandon its efforts at a diplomatic resolution to the Syrian crisis, and go for regime change.
THE Obama administration has for now abandoned efforts for a diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Syria, and instead it is increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad, US officials say.
Talks have been held by the administration with officials in Turkey and Israel over how to manage a Syrian government collapse. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is headed to Israel in the coming days to talk with his counterparts about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities. The administration is not advocating such an attack, US officials said, because of the risk that it would give the Syrian regime an opportunity to rally support against Israeli interference.
The White House is now holding daily high-level meetings to discuss contingency plans - including safeguarding Syria's vast chemical weapons arsenal and sending explicit warnings to both warring sides to avert mass atrocities - in a sign of the escalating seriousness following a week of intensified fighting in Damascus, the capital, and the killing of Dr Assad's key security aides in a bombing attack.
Administration officials insist they will not provide arms to the rebel forces. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are already financing those efforts. But US officials said that Washington was likely to supply some intelligence support and provide more communications training and equipment to help improve the combat effectiveness of disparate opposition forces.
Not supplying the rebels with weapons is prudent because we still don't know who many of them are. There are certainly terrorists mixed in with the Free Syrian Army, as well as units loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood. And the number one priority has to be securing Syria's WMD as quickly as possible.
But this switch in US policy reflects a belief that no political solution is on the horizon and the best thing to do is help the rebels overthrow Assad and then pick up the pieces afterward.