A member of a rebel group called the Martyr Al-Abbas walks with his weapon in a damaged building in Aleppo June 11, 2013. The group, which consists of five brothers and other members, operates under the Free Syrian Army, and was first established in the memory of the brothers' sibling Abbas Sheikh Yasine, who died from fighting in a battle in Sheikh Saeed, against forces of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, according to the brothers. One of the brothers used to work in the decor industry, another in a restaurant, while the three others were in school before the war started, they added.    REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT) - RTX10KG0
The White House announced Thursday that it would expand aid to Syrian rebels after concluding that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. But what form that aid will take remains the subject of more speculation than specific public knowledge at this point. That includes speculation about what kinds of weapons the administration might provide rebels:
The Obama administration could give the rebels a range of weapons, including small arms, assault rifles, shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades and other anti-tank missiles. The opposition forces could operate most of that equipment without significant training. [...]

Obama's opposition to sending American troops into Syria makes it less likely the U.S. will provide sophisticated arms or anti-aircraft weapons that would require large-scale training. Administration officials are also worried about high-powered weapons ending up in the hands of terrorist groups. Hezbollah fighters are among those backing Assad's armed forces, and al-Qaida-linked extremists back the rebellion.

There's also speculation about the possibility of a no-fly zone:
"Washington is considering a no-fly zone to help Assad's opponents," one diplomat said. He said it would be limited "time-wise and area-wise, possibly near the Jordanian border", giving no further details.

Imposing a no-fly zone would require the United States to destroy Syria's sophisticated Russian-built air defenses, thrusting it into the war with the sort of action NATO used to help topple Muammar Gaddafi in Libya two years ago. Washington says it has not ruled it out, but a decision is not "imminent".

The big questions, though, are less the specific forms of intervention and more the goals and politics involved. Asking "what's the endgame," NBC's First Read points out that the international politics of this are far more complicated than the domestic politics; after all, domestically, both Sen. John McCain and Bill Clinton are on board. And, hammering home the long-term dangers of serious intervention, Josh Marshall writes that "I think we’ve learned, at great pain and loss, that the US doing surgery on the Middle East creates scar tissue and complications way out of proportion to the hoped for gains."

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 09:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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