Despite promises of assistance for the Syrian rebels, half of the non-lethal aid promised to them remains on U.S. shelves. And now, Washington is pointing fingers over who’s to blame.
One U.S. official familiar with the aid delivery process says the bottleneck is at the State Department. Foggy Bottom has yet to send out congressional notifications on certain traunches of aid shipments involving vehicles, medical supplies, communications equipment and night vision goggles, according to the source.
"It’s just shocking that we are so slow on even non-lethal support to people who have now been well vetted," the source told The Cable. "We can’t even take the most basic of bureaucratic steps forward with non-lethal aid. How on earth can we even manage lethal aid?"
This week, a spokesman at State blamed delays in aid shipments on the congressional notification process, the need to vet the recipients of aid and the time it takes to ship items overseas.
The spokesman told FP’s Gordon Lubold that $127 million of aid is making its way to Syria now and an additional $123 million is going through the congressional notification process. The other government source speaking with The Cable says Congress has been pinging the State Department for notifications for the last two weeks on a multi-million dollar traunch of non-lethal aid but those notifications have yet to materialize.
By law, the State Department is required to send notifications to Congress with details on the cost and quantity of the aid before shipping it out. The source says Congress is likely to green light the notifications immediately, but that first bureaucratic step of sending out the notification is required to get the wheels in motion.
Another State Department official speaking with The Cable says these criticisms of Foggy Bottom are misplaced. "We work closely with Congress to notify them, that is happening right now and have made every effort to expedite move aid to the ground."
Meanwhile, rebels are in an increasingly vulnerable situation as regime-backed Hezbollah fighters advance on the rebel stronghold of Aleppo following a devastating victory over anti-government forces in Qusair. They could use some help, now.
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| The Cable |
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |