In Rome, Secretary Kerry Announces Nonlethal Assistance to Syria

Stop four of Secretary Kerry's Europe trip landed him in Rome and culminated with an announcement of $60 million in non-lethal assistance to strengthen the organizational capacity of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC). With this announcement, the United States is now providing more than $115 million in non-lethal support for the civilian opposition. As liberated areas across Syria struggle to rebuild their communities without the support of the central government, this additional assistance will enable the SOC to help enhance the capacity of local councils and communities so they can expand the delivery of basic goods and essential services, fulfill administrative functions, and extend the rule of law.

Significantly, the Secretary also announced that the United States would extend the provision of food rations and medical kits to the opposition, including the Supreme Military Council, in order to feed those in need and to tend to the sick and wounded.

In Secretary Kerry's words: "We do this because we need to stand on the side of those in this fight who want to see Syria rise again in unity and see a democracy and human rights and justice."

Standing in solidarity side-by-side with the Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi and Syrian Opposition Council Chairman Moaz al-Khatib, Secretary Kerry noted that the international community stands with a united voice in its commitment to helping the Syrian people achieve their goals.

"The United States and all the countries represented here believe the Syrian Opposition Coalition can successfully lead the way to a peaceful transition, but they cannot do it alone. They need more support from all of us, and they need Bashar al-Assad to make a different set of decisions."

While in Italy, Secretary Kerry attended a dinner with EU and NATO member foreign ministers and met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius. He had the opportunity to meet with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and other government ministers and attend an event commemorating the 2013 Italian Year of Culture with Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi.

In a statement, Secretary Kerry also thanked Pope Benedict, who left the Holy See on February 28, for his leadership. He shared good wishes to the Pope on behalf of the American people.

You can follow his travel on



Lynn C.
Maryland, USA
March 1, 2013

Lynn C. in Maryland writes:

Thank you for the attention to Syria. Perhaps we can go farther and give ammunition to the best people we can find in the opposition. It is crazy to enable Al Qaeda by abandoning a peaceful opposition, one that was forced to war reluctantly. Having been in the Civil Rights Movement, I am in awe of the courage of the Syrian demonstrators who went out unarmed to protest while facing live ammunition for nearly a year. If we really do believe in freedom, we must find some way to give intelligent aid based on principle. I am just a private citizen so I don't know what the defensive weapons given to Assad by the Russians are but feel that was unfair. Again, thanks for all you're doing and good luck!

United States
March 1, 2013

Mari in the U.S.A. writes:

@ Lynn, by pursuing a policy of insisting upon yet another "regime change" in defiance of the UN Charter, the Obama administration is "enabling Al Qaeda," regardless of which grouplet receives the weapons through proxy states like Qatar. Moaz al-Katib, head of the Syrian National Coalition, made that abundantly clear a few days ago.

New Mexico, USA
March 2, 2013

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Mari,

It is the Syrian people and the opposition coalition that are insisting upon "regime change", which is their right. That the US and others supports their efforts is not in violation of any UN charter, but in defense of the Declaration of Human Rights that forms a core part of that charter.

Al quaida is drawn to conflict like flies are to a dung heap...the best way to marginalize any influence of al Quaida in the outcome is to put an end to Assad's regime and help the Syrian people rebuild their country and establish a representitive system of government.

I think the US could do a lot more to save lives frankly than it has or proposes to do.

Since a "political transition" will not occur without the physical removal of Assad from power and surrender of his forces to the idea of peace, we could start by making Assad homeless, cratering a few runways to ground his airforce, demolishing scud launchers, artilliry batteries, and securing chemical weapons sites all the while we're pouring taxpayer dollars into humanitarian aid.

I'm sure we'll have a fair amount of help from Nato and the "freinds of Syria" if that decision is made.

It is in fact the line of reasoning that you express that "enables Al quaida" in hoping the Obama admin. will not take action against Assad, or support the Syrian opposition.

That may not be your intent, but that would be the result if you were making the decisions...which fortunately you are not.



Marshall C.
North Carolina, USA
March 2, 2013

Marshall C. in North Carolina writes:

Secretary Kerri: Your pledge of non-lethal aid to the Syrian rebels is fine. But it's quite inadequate. Those fighting the Assad regime need weapons, as you well know. The Russians and Iranians continue to supply Assad with lethal weapons used to inflict death on the rebels and on the Syrian civilian population. The US needs to support the rebels with arms and ammunition.

United States
March 4, 2013

Mari in the U.S.A. writes:

@ Eric, it would be helpful if you would describe the methodology you used to discover what the Syrian people want.

Article 2, paragraph 7, of the Charter of the United Nations establishes that nothing contained in the Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the Charter. That means that no member nation must submit to "regime change" when demanded by outside forces. It means that the past 12 years of invasions and proxy warfare conducted by Great Britain and the US were in violation of the UN Charter.

New Mexico, USA
March 5, 2013

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Mari,

Logic would dictate that if Article 2, chapter 7 were the end all , be all to determining non-intervention as the only option available to international actors on the world stage, there would be no need for the UN Security Council, the "Responsibility to Protect", the Human Rights Council, or any number of other bodies within the UN that make determinations that affect the domestic affairs of nation states and members within the family of nations.

Thus you are engaging in nothing more than a deliberate mismanagement of the truth for political purpose by drawing the following conclusions:

"That means that no member nation must submit to "regime change" when demanded by outside forces. It means that the past 12 years of invasions and proxy warfare conducted by Great Britain and the US were in violation of the UN Charter."

Look, if you want to play "international lawyer" with me, that's wouldn't be the first.

You have access to the internet, as well as the means to do research into the history and causology of the Syrian conflict just as much as I do.

My methodology is exceedingly simplistic, I watch, I listen, and I learn.

The Syrian people want many things, it is not a homogeny...just as a 12 year old will want different things than an adult, everyone has an agenda. But some desires are common human incentives like; "life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness" and that isn't something unique to Americans, as the Arab Spring has proven beyond any shadow of doubt or debate.

I do not pretend to speak for the Syrian people as to what "they want", for as I said;

"It is the Syrian people and the opposition coalition that are insisting upon "regime change", which is their right."

This doesn't involve "wanting"...the people asked for reform and got bullets instead, a boy was tortured and murdered then left on his parents doorstep by Assad's security forces...Protests and burials were met with more bullets and tanks, people responded with barricades and rocks, the regime responds with bullets , tanks, and artillary, and when finally the people started shooting back, Assad's forces resopnded with all of the above and bombs and scuds too...and are still losing this fight...why?

Because of a simple premis the civil rights movement in America coined decades ago;

"They got the guns, but we got the numbers."

And in Syria's case, 70-100 thousand dead people to attest to the strength and believe in their "insistance" upon "regime change".

We in America go through "regime change" every 4 years, 8 if the incumbant president is lucky to retain his home away from home.

We do this peacefully and by the vote.

Would it suprise you that the Syrian people would want that kind of power to create predictable change in their own country?

To have a voice in the matter?

To "insist" on that, and expect the help of other democracies to stand in solidaritry with them in their darkest hours?

I look at the ways and means of this nation's approach to conflict, whether directed against us as not; as to what assesment (as historical evaluation), would the State Dept.'s of the year 2113 be in regards to;

A) The decision to use force in international cooperative governance on humanitarian grounds to permanently resolve indemic and pervasive conflict, end bloodshead, and create a secure space for civil restoration, nation building, and good self-governance that is peaceful and sustainable.

B) Terrorism as a late entry into the dustbin of history.

C) The developmental and evolutionary Diplomatic process and legal framework in international fora that facilitated the above mentioned efforts and initiatives on a global scale.

D) Public imput into AB&C above as it has effected outcome(s).

E) Thinking outside the box:-) A study in the evolution of America's diplomatic and foreign policies in the post 9/11 era.

F) What more could have been done to end conflict faster with a minimal cost in civilian lives.

G) What influence and efforts of hostile governments and non-government org's (to the US and NATO effort), had in affecting policy outcomes in resolving conflict; and it's response on the international level.

Last but not least;

H) WMD's and their abolishment; Patterns of global insecurity and their effecive countermeasures.

Secretary Kerry, Chairman Al-Khatib, and Foreign Minister Terzi at Press Availability in Rome, Italy
Posted by Jared Caplan
March 1, 2013


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