Kurt Shillinger's argument for arming the Syrian rebels to back Bashar al-Assad "into a corner from which the negotiating table provides his only safe escape" is a terrible idea (June 26 commentary "US military aid to Syrian rebels: help or hindrance?"). True, the Assad regime is supported by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. It is also supported by the majority of Syria's Christians, who have always tended to form alliances with the Alawites and Shiites in opposition to the majority Sunnis.
The Sunnis fighting against the Assad regime are backed by Wahhabi Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda-affiliated groups. If the US gives arms to the opposition, we will be, in effect, helping Al Qaeda and Islamist jihadist groups. The Middle East is a complicated place, and the best thing for America to do is stay out of Syria's civil war completely.
Ricky-Dale Calhoun, PhD (History)
I have two elderly women cousins in Aleppo, Syria, who are essentially prisoners in their homes. The "rebels" are not just Syrian dissidents, but include many interlopers from other countries. Are we crazy, advocating giving these miscreants arms to kill further? Did intervention make Iraq a better place? Unseat Bashar al-Assad so Islamists can make further inroads? Mr. Shillinger's suggestion will only amplify the firestorm.
During Easter services at Christian churches, Mr. Assad dispensed his troops to surround the churches so the attendees would be safe. None of that was reported. I'm not condoning what Assad is about, but much of mainstream Western news media represents the point of view the US is advocating – not the point of view of the general Syrian populace. Arming the rebels further is going to expand this "war" and drag America into the abyss.
America struggles to help its own people and solve internal problems but still acts like the self-appointed cop for the rest of the world. I am not a pacifist. I believe in protecting America's freedoms and defending the Constitution – but not trying to spoon-feed it to the rest of the world. We must not add more fuel to the fire in Syria that will result in more innocent people being sacrificed.