- By Josh Rogin
The United States is moving toward more robust help for the Syrian opposition but has not yet decided to recognize the Syrian opposition or provide arms to any Syrian rebel groups, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but the tide is turning in the rebels’ favor.
"It appears as though the opposition is now capable of holding ground and that they are better equipped and more able to bring the fight to the government forces," Clinton said at a conference Thursday sponsored jointly by the Foreign Policy Group and the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning. "I don’t know if you can say that the entire country is at a tipping point, but it certainly seems that the regime will be harder pressed in the coming months."
Clinton denied a report Thursday by the Associated Press stating that the administration is already planning to recognize the new Syrian opposition council that the State Department was instrumental in helping establish. She also declined to confirm a New York Times report Thursday that the administration is considering providing direct arms to some members of the Syrian opposition.
"We’re constantly evaluating, we’re constantly taking action, and I’m sure we will do more in the weeks ahead," she said. "No other decisions have been made yet, but we consider them on almost a daily basis."
"We’re going to carefully consider what more we can do," Clinton said, promising an announcement of future U.S. moves at the next "Friends of Syria" meeting in Morocco in December.
Clinton did say that the Syrian opposition is moving toward a more unified, cohesive position on what the future of a post-Assad Syrian would look like. She also said that the United States is hoping to that the government and civic structures inside Syria could be preserved if and when the Assad regime falls.
"We’re doing what we can to support the opposition and also support those inside Syria within the local councils who are committed to the kind of continuity in Syrian governmental institutions so we don’t see a collapse and of disbandment of institutional forces that we know from our Iraq experience can be extremely dangerous," she said.