The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Tracking the Issues: Santorum Wants to Help Arm Syria Rebels

by Newsteam Staff
March 6, 2012

A boy shows empty shells and cartridges after government forces shelled Sermeen, Syria February 28, 2012. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters) A boy shows empty shells and cartridges after government forces shelled Sermeen, Syria February 28, 2012. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters)

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Monday that the United State should help to “arm and supply” the Syrian rebels. “When the United States says, ‘This guy should go,’ then the expectation is that the United States will stand behind limited and reasonable efforts to do so,” he said in an interview with TIME.

The United States is proposing a new Security Council resolution (AP) to demand an end to violence in Syria for both the government forces and opposition fighters. President Obama has called several times for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and for the international community to maintain pressure. Over the weekend, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he was “not anxious” to use military action. “Syria is a far more serious military defender than was Libya,” he said. At a GOP presidential debate February 22, Newt Gingrich advocated the use of  allies and other outside groups to arm the rebellion, while Ron Paul has argued against arming Syria’s opposition.

A poll conducted for The Hill by Pulse Opinion Research found that more than half of likely voters–57 percent–don’t think the United States should get involved in Syria, more than twice the 25 percent who believe the country should get more involved in helping the opposition.

For more on the candidates’ stands, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on Democracy Promotion in the Arab World.

Suggested Other Reading:

CFR’s Stewart M. Patrick looks at the UN Human Rights Council’s increasingly prominent role in pressing for global action on the Syrian crisis in this video.

CFR’s Elliott Abrams writes in the National Review that mixed messages from Washington ultimately leave the Syrian opposition to fend for themselves.

In Foreign Affairs, Michael Weiss says Syria’s opposition groups must first coalesce into a unified political and military force in order for humanitarian intervention to succeed.

Liriel Higa, Contributing Editor

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