Taxpayers in the United States are becoming more involved in the Syrian civil war, as the US government announced they would be contributing another $100 million in humanitarian aid. In total, the US has promised more than half a billion dollars in humanitarian aid to Syria, not counting “nonlethal assistance” given to the Syrian opposition.
The announcement of the new aid comes as the US is also working with Russia to host another international conference aimed at kickstarting a political transition and peace plan in Syria. The two superpowers held a similar conference last summer, but the process never developed into anything substantial.
Ending the Syrian conflict as soon as possible is very important for a number of reasons. First, the war is becoming increasingly brutal and there are real concerns about the use of chemical weapons and the risk those weapons may reach global terrorists. Second, the situation has impacted the entire region and could lead to a broader Middle East war—which is not only bad for the nations there but also would likely lead to a surge in oil prices.
Lastly, the international cost for aid to Syria continues to rise as the crisis deepens. US and European taxpayers have a financial interest in seeing the conflict end soon.
US Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell was quoted by a State Department transcript as telling reporters that a new conference aims to break the “logjam” in the efforts to set up a transition government in Syria. However, actually doing that will be challenging. The US and Russia appear to still have differences on the Syrian situation and it’s not yet apparent if the Syrian regime and opposition are anywhere close to an agreement on ending the civil war.
So almost a year since Russia and the US held a conference on Syria, what’s different now?
“The change is that both we and the Russians are going to work very hard to get both of these sides to the table and implement this plan,” said Ventrell. “So the plan is still the same Geneva communique, but the idea is that we need to put extra impetus and extra effort on both sides, on both parties to get to the table to work toward a political transition.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 9, 2013)