Time magazine reported on Monday that the Obama admin is seriously considering arming Al-Qaeda forces in Syria, again.
This time he wants to send manpads, which are shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles capable of knocking helicopters and low-flying planes out of the sky.
So Obama wants to overthrow Assad so badly he’s willing to give our ‘terrorist enemies’ a weapon that can shoot down our commercial airliners. Oh, but I’m sure that the terrorists will give us back our manpads if we get their word?? This is insanity!
White House officials are weighing whether to send surface-to-air missiles to opposition factions at the risk of a possible terrorist “nightmare”
A former CIA director has called them “our worst nightmare.” A 2005 study found that just one could blow a $15 billion hole in the world economy. And the Obama Administration is thinking about sending them to Syria.
They are shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, capable of knocking helicopters and low-flying planes out of the sky. Syria’s rebels and their Arab government backers insist those weapons could decisively reverse the momentum in Syria’s three-year civil war, which may recently have shifted in favor of Bashar Assad’s regime.
“The introduction of manpads could be a game changer in Syria, like it was in Afghanistan in the 1980s with Stinger missiles,” an Arab official tells TIME, adding that he believes the Obama Administration has begun discussing the idea more seriously. Other sources say the issue is being debated at the White House but that strong doubts remain about the wisdom of providing missiles to the rebels.
The issue is newly relevant amid recent reports that Syrian fighters are now using U.S.-made antitank weapons against Assad’s forces. Experts say it’s unlikely those weapons could have wound up in Syria without U.S. approval. Nor are they likely to shift the military balance in the conflict.
Antiaircraft missiles might. For a President unwilling to intervene directly in a conflict that has claimed upwards of 100,000 lives, they might seem an easy and inexpensive way to force out Assad. The Syrian dictator has employed his air supremacy to bomb rebel outposts, resupply isolated forces and force civilians to evacuate pro-rebel areas through terrorizing bombardments.
But supplying the lightweight missiles would involve huge risk. Senior Administration officials worry that the weapons — known technically as man-portable air-defense systems, or manpads — could fall into the hands of terrorists intent on shooting down a civilian airliner. Syria’s rebel forces are now dominated by radical Islamists, some of whom recently overran headquarters used by a moderate faction and looted weapons stored there.
Even hardened national-security officials blanch at the thought of al-Qaeda with manpads. It was former CIA director David Petraeus who called that scenario a “nightmare” in January. A 2005 Rand Corp. study found that the shooting down of a civilian airliner might temporarily freeze air travel worldwide and produce total economic losses of more than $15 billion. That’s why, in the chaos following the 2011 fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the U.S. State Department frantically hunted down loose manpads from his arsenal, while Petraeus’ CIA reportedly conducted a parallel effort.
Even so, some influential voices in Washington think the risk is worth taking. In a recent interview with TIME, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain singled out the Assad regime’s use of “barrel bombs,” crude explosive devices pushed out of helicopters whose primary function seems to be killing civilians. “I want to shoot them down,” McCain said. “To stop these atrocities, I’m willing to take the risk of a manpad … falling into the wrong hands, because we’ve got to stop it.”