“Obama Approval of Manpads for Rebels Would Violate US Agreements, Policy, and Endanger Airliners,” by James McMichael

Obama Approval of Manpads for Rebels Would Violate US Agreements, Policy, and Endanger Airliners
by James McMichael [jamesmcmichael.dc@gmail.com]
for Syria Comment, March 26, 2014

President Obama is considering supplying Syrian rebels with Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (Manpads).  These antiaircraft missiles are small enough to be carried and fired by a single person; they can destroy jet fighters and civilian airliners alike. If President Obama gives his approval for their supply to Syrian rebels, he will violate several international antiterrorism agreements that prohibit the supply of Manpads to non-state actors. This will negate a decade of U.S. anti-terrorism diplomacy, put air travelers at risk, and destroy the growing international anti-terrorism norm against supplying Manpads to non-state actors.

Reuters reports that on February 18 a senior Obama administration official said that the administration “remains opposed to any provision of MANPADS to the Syrian opposition” and Reuters reports further that: “The United States has long opposed supplying rebels with anti-aircraft missiles due to concern they may fall into the hands of forces that may use the weapons against Western targets or commercial airlines.” On March 28, one of President Obama’s national security advisers said: “We have made clear that there are certain types of weapons, including Manpads, that could pose a proliferation risk if introduced into Syria.”

Those concerns that Manpads supplied to “moderate” rebels will find their way into the hands of terrorists are extremely well founded. Saudi Arabia purchased Croatian antitank weapons and grenade launchers that were then provided to the “moderate” Free Syrian Army. As documented with video evidence by the Brown Moses Blog, some of those weapons wound up in the hands of the extremist jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham, and McClatchy Newspapers confirmed that the FSA shared their new weapons with Ahrar al-Sham. Even worse, as documented with photographic evidence by the Brown Moses Blog, those Saudi-purchased Croatian weapons are now being used in Iraq against the Iraqi Army by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a group so savage that it has been expelled from al-Qaeda.

Manpads can be hidden in a car trunk, some even in a golf bag, and are a threat to civilian airliners all over the world. A 2011 U.S. State Department factsheet states that: “Since 1975, 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by Manpads, causing about 28 crashes and more than 800 deaths around the world.” Former CIA Director David Petraeus recently said: “As you know, that was always our worst nightmare, that a civilian airliner would be shot down by one [Manpad].” Then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told the Wall Street Journal: “There is no question when you start passing Manpads around, that becomes a threat, not just to military aircraft but to civilian aircraft.” Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said: “No threat is more serious to [civil] aviation” than Manpads.

The State Department factsheet describes a decade of U.S. diplomatic efforts to stop the supply of Manpads to “non-state actors”, which includes the Syrian rebels, and three international agreements resulting from that U.S. diplomacy and to which the U.S. is a party:

First, in 2003 the G-8 adopted a “G-8 Action Plan” titled “Enhance Transport Security and Control of Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (Manpads)” which provides:

[W]e agree to implement the following steps to prevent the acquisition of Manpads by terrorists: . . .
To ban transfers of Manpads to non-state end-users; Manpads should only be exported to foreign governments or to agents authorised by a government.

The State Department factsheet boasts that this G-8 agreement was “U.S.-initiated.”

Second, a 2003 agreement pursuant to the Wassenaar Arrangement, which regulates exports of conventional arms, provides:

Decisions to permit Manpads exports will be made by the exporting government by competent authorities at senior policy level and only to foreign governments or to agents specifically authorised to act on behalf of a government.

The State Department factsheet says that the U.S. “participates in the [Wassenaar Agreement] . . . to encourage international adherence to and effective implementation of these rigorous Manpads guidelines.”

Third, the Organization of American States adopted a 2005 resolution titled “Denying Manpads to Terrorists: Control and Security of Man-Portable Air Defense Weapons” which resolves:

To urge member states to ban all transfers of Manpads and their essential components to non-state end users because Manpads should be exported only to foreign governments or to agents authorized by a government.

Note that all three of these U.S.-sought international agreements ban supplying Manpads to any non-state users and permit supplying them only to governments. There is no exception for “good” non-state actors, and in fact the State Department fact-sheet says that the U.S. strives to keep Manpads away from terrorists “and other non-state actors.” That is wise, because one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.
Finally, consider that Assad’s military has thousands of Manpads but, even now, he has not supplied them to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Kurdish rebels in Turkey, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, ISIS in Iraq, or to terrorists bound for Europe or the United States. If President Obama makes the wrong decision, he may change that.

Comments (208)

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201. Syrialover said:

#189. SYRIAN HAMSTER, isn’t that the same person who dismisses Jarba of the SNC by saying he looks like “a cross between a smuggler and a Saudi Bedouin”?

Puzzling. Ahman Jarba appears an infinitely more normal-looking and respectable human representative of Syrians compared with the bizarre pinheaded Bashar Assad and his freakish-looking gang of Walid Muallam, Bouthaina Shaaban and co.

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April 6th, 2014, 12:41 pm


202. ALAN said:

فشل مؤتمر جنيف2 , أولا لأن الولايات المتحدة قررت دعم الموقف السعودي بدلا من احترام توقيعها على بيان جنيف1, وثانيا لأن الإبراهيمي لم يكن محايدا في رئاسته لمؤتمر جنيف, بل كان يخدم واشنطن بدلا من سعيه للبحث عن السلام.
بناء على نصائح روسيا, قبلت سورية أن يرأس المبعوث الخاص للسيد بان كي مون الجلسات.
كانت موسكو تعتبر واشنطن في تلك الفترة كشريك, بينما لم تنس دمشق أن الإبراهيمي لم يكن منذ خمس وعشرون عاما مضت, إبان مؤتمر الطائف, أحد خصومها.
مع ذلك, فإن ضعف التمثيل في وفد المعارضة, وإلغاء دعوة إيران عشية انعقاد المؤتمر, ومن ثم كلمة وزير الخارجية جون كيري في حفل الافتتاح والتي حمل فيها سورية مسؤولية كل مايجري, كشفت لموسكو أنها كانت على خطأ وأنه قد تم خداعها.
كانت محادثات جنيف فرصة للأخضر الإبراهيمي كي يظهر للملأ عناد سورية, بغية تحميلها مسؤولية حرب هي ضحية لها.
وما حديثه عن فشل المؤتمر, على منبر الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة في 14 آذار الماضي, إلا لاتهام سورية بأنها تجوع شعبها, خصوصا أنه لم يتوقف عن التأكيد بأن النزاع الجاري يضع الحكومة في مواجهة مع نصف مواطنيها وأنه لايمكن إيجاد حل عسكري.
هذا يعني إسدال الستار على عشر سنوات من تحضيرات الغرب لهذه الحرب, وعلى الطريقة التي أطلقوا بموجبها هذه الحرب عبر إرسال قناصتهم إلى درعا, وكذلك على تواجد مقاتلين أجانب فوق الأرض السورية.
إن مجرد تعيين السيد الإبراهيمي هو في حد ذاته علامة على الفشل مستقبلا : فبينما قدم سلفه كوفي عنان استقالته معلنا استحالة الاستمرار بمهمته, بسبب ازدواجية معايير الغرب, قبل الإبراهيمي المهمة مبتسما, بعد أن جمع بين مهمته كمبعوث خاص للأمين العام للأمم المتحدة, ومبعوث خاص للأمين العام للجامعة العربية التي تم استبعاد سوريا منها ظلما, فكان الخصم والحكم في نفس الوقت.
هل من الضروري أن نذكر بأن الأخضر الإبراهيمي كان عام 1992 واحدا من الأعضاء العشر في المجلس الأعلى لمجلس الأمن القومي الجزائري؟.
في ذلك الوقت, كان زعيم الجبهة الإسلامية, عباسي مدني يتخذ من برهان غليون العلماني المزيف, مستشارا سياسيا له. كان عناصر الحركة الإسلامية المسلحة آنذاك ( التي أطلق عليها لاحقا عام 2007 اسم تنظيم القاعدة في المغرب الإسلامي) يتدربون على استعمال السلاح جنبا إلى جنب مع المجموعات الإسلامية المقاتلة في ليبيا (التي أطلق عليها اعتبارا من عام 1997 اسم تنظيم القاعدة في ليبيا) : معظم مقاتلي هاتين المجموعتين
تم دمجهم ضمن المجموعات الإرهابية المسلحة في سورية.
الأخضر الإبراهيمي الذي يحب أن يقدم نفسه كمناضل سابق من العالم الثالث, لم يخدم قط هذه الشعوب, ولا حتى شعبه الجزائري, ولم يقطع يوما صلاته بالقوى العظمى.
إنه غير جدير باحترامنا له.
تييري ميسان

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April 6th, 2014, 2:40 pm


203. amspirnational said:

Putin’s Eurasian Project certainly is a, perhaps THE most potent
medium-term enemy of the United States’ Empire (not of the nation, which doesn’t need the Empire, not like Israel needs it.)

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April 6th, 2014, 3:10 pm


205. Ghufran said:

The Syrian war, and the arab spring in general, summarizes all the contradictions and the failures of Syrians, Arabs, Muslims and the international community. Consider these facts:

1. Assad government supported Islamist rebels when the US invaded Iraq but those
rebels came back to bite the hand that fed them. The USA did the same thing in Afghanistan.
2. The main financiers for Syrian rebels are GCC governments and private donors. GCC countries are ruled by oppressive family- dominated regimes that suppress women and minorities and do not allow political dissent. We are supposed to believe that those sheikhs and their agents in Syria will support a pleural and tolerant political system !!
3. What started as demonstrations for legitimate political and economic rights quickly changed to an armed rebellion then terrorism. The victim has become a copy of the perpetrator or worse if you add the extremist Islamist ideology of most rebels.
4. Rebels failed their own population who paid the heaviest price when millions of them became refugees who lost their homes and properties in a revolution that promised them freedom and a better life. The regime used poor alawites to stay in power leaving tens of thousands of families without men and money and forcing orphans and widows to beg for assistance that is unlikely to come in any substantial way.
5. NATO countries instigated the use of violence against regime troops and helped rebels politically but privided modest military support then left those rebels under the mercy of turkey and the GCC and issued orders to prevent their citizens from returning to NATO countries if they fight in Syria.the same NATO countries are making billions of dollars in arm deals with GCC countries to “help them deter Iran”, it is crystal clear that the West is OK with this morbid situation as long as Israel is safe and jihadists stay out of NATO countries.
6. The regime showed by ignoring the plight of minorities in a number of areas especially Latakia (while pushing hard around Damascus and Aleppo) that staying in power is more important than protecting minorities who today have no choice but to accept the regime because the other option is the rule of sectarian militias that are openly hostile to them.
7. Muslim revolutionaries for the most part could not provide an acceptable alternative to non religious dictatorships. Muslim fighters respond to existing regimes with suicide bombing, armed lawless militias and head cutting ceremonies. It is either Islamist terrorism or brutal and corrupt dictatorships. A third option has not materialized after 4 years of chaos and blood shed that characterized the so called Arab Spring.
يا أمة ضحكت من جهلها الامم

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April 6th, 2014, 4:55 pm


206. ALAN said:

True Muslim Uzair !
/Does the liberation of Jerusalem an individual duty?
/Don’t worry God Almighty will take care of Jerusalem and arrange for it’s liberation./
ALAN said:
Stop for a red herring!
You turned the issue of Jerusalem to God, and then God left in order to hiding behind Assad!!! This logic clumsy!!! Why do not pro-Palestine Dear long beard?
Sorry Palestinian Sister: The stupid Arabs are busy slaughtering each other.

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April 6th, 2014, 6:04 pm


207. ALAN said:

In Pakistan, a giant poster of a child victim now looks up at drone operators

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April 6th, 2014, 6:29 pm


208. Tettodoro said:

Try some basic maths: 800 allegedly killed by MANPAD strikes in 38 years = 21 deaths a year. Syrian civilians killed by aerial bombardment in 2 years 9500 (2600+ children). So in your moral universe one western life = 226 Syrian lives.
A licence for state terrorism.

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April 14th, 2014, 8:38 am


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