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senate Bill S. 960

Supporting Syrian Rebels

Argument in favor

Provides concrete support — financial, military and humanitarian — for assisting Syria to transform into a peaceful, stable, and democratic state.

Samuel's Opinion
···
05/05/2015
Yes help the Syria people as much as possible. They are regular peace loving citizens, just like most Americans.
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Argument opposed

Buries America deeper in a conflict it has no business touching. Humanitarian assistance should be considered separately from legislation that proposes military assistance.

Nick's Opinion
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11/19/2015
Syrian Rebels are infused with al Qaeda and other jihadist groups. Don't forget ISIS grew out of the rebel force.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
    IntroducedMay 15th, 2013

What is Senate Bill S. 960?

This bill would implement several broad measures — including military support and financial funding — to support the Syrian rebel forces that are trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian civil war was sparked when Assad’s government brutally suppressed massive civil demonstrations that had been inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011. Over the last three years the conflict has morphed into a war of attrition between Assad’s forces in the western portion of the country and rebel forces in the north, east and south.

Fundamentalist Sunni soldiers aligned with the Islamic State (IS) have become the strongest rebel force in Syria, expanding the fight into northern Iraq in their attempt to create an Islamic caliphate. Secular and moderate rebels, caught between Assad’s barrel bombs and the fanatical violence of the IS, are rapidly being squeezed out of the conflict. Violations against Syrian civilians have included attacks on medical workers and others. 

S. 960 expresses support for the Syrian civilian population and a desire to help the country transition into a peaceful democracy. To accomplish this goal, the bill contains five sweeping proposals:

  • Perhaps most importantly — this bill would give the President the green light to give military assistance to the Syrian Supreme Military Council, the Free Syrian Army, and other rebel groups. Recipients of this aid would be strongly encouraged to strive for a state free of weapons of mass destruction. They would also be asked to abide by a code of military conduct that prohibits sectarian violence and revenge attacks. 
  • Directs the Secretary of State to create a strategy for helping Syria’s political transition. This report would address the threats posed by extremist groups (specifically those that target civilians), sectarian and ethnic violence, the proliferation of weapons, and the displacement of refugees. It would also include proposals for engaging international partners in helping Syria rebuild itself.
  • Authorizes the President to deliver humanitarian assistance to Syrians through the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. It would also encourage the President to solicit aid from the U.N., support refugee assistance programs in countries bordering Syria, and press for greater international participation in bring basic services to Syrian refugees and civilians.
  • Establishes a temporary Syria Transition Fund (STF). This is meant to give Syrians the financial ability to transition into a democratic government. The things the STF can be spent on are not limited to any one venture: democracy promotion, security support, assistance with basic services, regional stabilization, repairing the economy, and creating new judicial tools. In short, anything to rebuild civil society.
  • Sanctions, sanctions, sanctions. This section authorizes the President to order two or more sanctions on any person who in any way helped Assad’s government acquire military assets. The President is also authorized to impose three or more sanctions on any person who helped Assad’s government acquire petroleum. On top of this, the President would have the power to prohibit foreign financial institutions from opening certain types of accounts in the U.S. if they helped Assad buy weapons or petroleum.


Impact

Syrians, Syrian refugees in other countries, President Bashar al-Assad, the Free Syrian Army, the Syrian Supreme Military Council, the Islamic State, other Syrian rebel groups, Iraqi’s in northern Iraq, Syria’s neighbors, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, and other religious and ethnic groups.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 960

$3.90 Billion
The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost $3.9 billion between 2013-2018.

More Information

In-Depth:

The U.S. has been offering humanitarian aid to Syrian rebels for more than a year. But the support — delivered in intermittent spurts — has so far failed to turn the tide in their favor. In the last two months, a bloody stalemate has broken down between the three major forces in Syria: Assad’s pro-government military, moderate rebels, and Islamist rebels. While secular rebels are steadily losing ground, Islamist jihadists have consolidated their hold in southern Syria. They’ve seized oil fields and used the profits to finance an invasion of neighboring Iraq to purge the region of Shi’a and other religious minorities.


The continual warfare has sapped Syria’s resources. Almost 200,000 people have been killed, and three million more have fled the country in one of the largest migratory movements in over 60 years. A sizable majority of citizens in the U.S. favor military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), especially after the videotaped beheadings of two U.S. journalists.  


But passing a multi-billion dollar aid package for Syria’s rebels represents a serious stake in the region’s conflicts. It’s unclear what sort of impact it could have on Syria and Iraq, where dozens of separate groups are competing with one another. For example, even as Congress prepares to approve the Syria Transition Support Act, the White House is approving air strikes on Sunni fundamentalists affiliated with ISIS. This might take care of ISIS, but it could also create a power imbalance that allows Assad to crush the remaining secular and Kurdish rebel forces in his country, regardless of financial and military aid.

Media:

Bill sponsor Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Foreign Policy

Huffington Post

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Freedom House)

AKA

Syria Transition Support Act of 2013

Official Title

A bill to foster stability in Syria, and for other purposes.

    Yes help the Syria people as much as possible. They are regular peace loving citizens, just like most Americans.
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    NOT OUR BUSINESS
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    Syrian Rebels are infused with al Qaeda and other jihadist groups. Don't forget ISIS grew out of the rebel force.
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    Tough call, Syrian government is terrible, Isis is terrible. Regular people struck in the middle. I don't think building up rebel groups is the answer.
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    The only group truly moderate are the Ypg and the SDF. By now politicians know this, and these Syrian rebel groups we seem to pick out be another branch of Al Queda. Let's leave the Syrian rebels the hell alone.
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