President Obama has crossed a moral red line. Recently, he did the unthinkable: He announced that the U.S. government would directly arm terrorist groups in Syria.
Mr. Obama said that he would waive a federal law designed to prevent weapons from being sent to designated-terrorist organizations. In particular, the president cited a provision in the Arms Export Control Act that enables him to provide assistance to outlawed groups provided it is “essential to the national security interests of the United States.” Obama’s actions may be legal, but they are reckless, dangerous and will haunt America for years to come.
The administration’s goal is to provide military assistance to the Syrian opposition rebels, who are determined to overthrow strongman Bashar Assad. Syria’s bloody civil war has cost over 100,000 lives and plunged the Arab nation into a sectarian bloodbath. Contrary to media spin, however, the anti-Assad rebels are not “moderates.” They are not seeking to forge an Arab Switzerland — a tolerant, multi-ethnic democracy.
Rather, the ranks of the insurgents are filled with jihadists, many of whom have ties to Al Qaida. The main faction, al Nusra, has publicly pledged its loyalty to Al Qaida. Thousands of foreign fighters from numerous countries — Libya, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan — have poured into Syria. Their aim is to create a radical Sunni Islamist state.
Jihadist rebels have committed countless atrocities. Churches and Christian shrines have been destroyed. Priests have been murdered. Entire Alawite (minority Shiites) and Christian villages have been burned to the ground. In short, the Al Qaida-linked rebels are engaged in wholesale religious cleansing. Their slogan is simple — and sadistic: “The Alawites to the wall, the Christians to Beirut.”
Obama and his allies in Congress insist that U.S. weapons will only go to “vetted” opposition groups. This is a red herring. The so-called non-Islamists — the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — are not “moderate” by any Western standard. The FSA calls for Sharia law to be imposed on Syria. They do not want a genuine secular state. Instead, Christians and Alawites would be reduced to minority status, essentially second-class citizens, while the majority Sunnis would dominate a post-Assad Syria. The FSA wants to subordinate Alawites and Christians; the jihadists seek to eradicate them. There are no good rebels. The United States has no business interfering in Syria’s internal affairs. No national interest — none — is at stake.
Obama’s decision, however, to arm the rebels has created a dangerous security threat to America — and the Middle East. The reason is simple: U.S. weapons will inevitably fall into the hands of jihadist groups. In the chaos of war, with countless Islamic insurgents having infiltrated every Syrian rebel group — including the Free Syrian Army — American advisers cannot prevent U.S. arms from going to Al Qaida. Even supporters of Obama’s policy admit this.
“Our intelligence agencies, I think, have a very good handle on who to support and who not to support,” said Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican. “And there’s going to be mistakes. We understand some people are going to get arms that should not be getting arms. But we still should be doing everything we can to support the free Syrian opposition.”
Hence, the U.S. government is willing to risk arming our mortal enemies — the very same terrorist group responsible for the heinous Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the murderous assault on Benghazi — in order to defeat Assad. This is not only grossly irresponsible; it borders on lunacy. We are empowering Al Qaida jihadists with our own weapons, which will almost certainly be used against U.S. targets and citizens in the future.
Assad is a brutal tyrant. Russia, Iran and Hizbullah back his odious regime. Yet, the Syrian dictator has not attacked or threatened to strike America. He poses no threat to our vital security. He has now even agreed to dismantle his chemical weapons arsenal. We have no dog in Syria’s fight.
Obama has now done something unprecedented. He has put America on the same side as Al Qaida. He has violated his constitutional oath to defend the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. In Syria, we are now allied with them. There is a word for that — betrayal. America will rue the day.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a celebrated talk radio host at Boston’s WRKO and a columnist for The Washington Times and WorldTribune.com.