Politics & Policy

No Aid to Our Enemies

Rebel fighters in Deir Ezzor, Syria.
The danger posed by the Syrian rebels

Last year, I warned that giving aid to the Syrian rebels could come back to haunt the United States and Israel, and that we shouldn’t do it. 

Recently, the Washington Free Beacon reported:

One of the militant Syrian rebel groups provided access to advanced U.S. missiles said that it is seeking “the return of all Syrian land occupied by Israel,” a stance that could potentially complicate U.S. military support to the armed rebel group.

This is why I strenuously opposed the United States aid to these Syrian rebels. I warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of this on the day it voted overwhelmingly to arm this group. My exact warning: “This is an important moment. You will be funding, today, the allies of al-Qaeda.”

“It’s an irony you cannot overcome,” I added.

One year and one month later, the irony remains. No one in Washington has lifted a finger to rectify the startling fact that our government continues to give arms and aid to groups who threaten our ally Israel.

In April, I introduced the Stand with Israel Act of 2014, which would cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority until its government agreed to a ceasefire and recognized the right of the Jewish state to exist. I believe this must happen before any lasting peace can truly be achieved.

In the interest of peace and standing by our allies, I will now propose a bill called the Defense of Israel Act. This legislation will cut off arms and aid to the Syrian rebels and any other group that threatens Israel.

Our aid money should not be sent to enemies of America. And it should not be sent to those who seek the destruction of Israel, whether that be Hamas or Syrian rebels.

Our current policies regarding military aid to Syria simply do not make sense, yet this administration and many in Congress continue to remain completely deaf. Washington needs to hear the message loud and clear — again — concerning Syria: We do not know who these people are!

Terrorism analyst Patrick Poole told the Free Beacon last month that, “despite repeated promises that we would only arm ‘vetted rebels,’ there’s no confidence that anyone in the U.S. government has any idea who they’re dealing with or what their agenda might be.”

This is what I tried to tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a year ago — that we don’t know enough about the rebels, that we do know that many of them are al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda-related, and that it doesn’t make sense to fund our enemies. Nor does it make sense to fund the enemies of Israel. That is not in America’s interest.

I will propose a bill to cut off such aid, and expect every one of my colleagues who supports Israel to join me in ending U.S. military aid to the Syrian opposition.

Make no mistake: Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator guilty of unspeakable crimes against humanity. But the same is true for many of the rebel groups trying to oust him. The civil war in Syria is a horrible tragedy, but the U.S. simply has no ally in that war. There is no endgame, given the current conditions, that favors the U.S.

Certainly groups that threaten Israel cannot be allies of the U.S.

I will do everything in my power to make sure this president and this Congress stop treating Israel’s enemies as American allies.

I hope that this time, Washington will listen.

— Senator Rand Paul is a Republican representing Kentucky.

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