"... Executives from leading international aid groups are urging Congress to reject the recommendation. They say the proposal risks the traditional neutrality of aid missions and would place delivery of aid in the hands of an organization with no network for delivering it.“The issue is whether or not we start turning aid into a political tool for the West,” said one humanitarian aid executive who met with members of Congress in recent days to discuss the issue. “Aid should be impartial, aid should be neutral, and aid, frankly, should be delivered with organizations that have the capacity to be accountable as well as able to get it there in the most efficient manner.”...The aid executives acknowledge that they have been able to reach only a fraction of the Syrians in need. But they warn that conditions could be far worse should Congress legislate the handover of aid delivery to opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad....As it stands, many international aid agencies are following a two-track system, distributing aid through official channels in Damascus – for which they are criticized by some opposition figures – but also through independent, cross-border pipelines, trucking it in through Jordan and Turkey to opposition-controlled areas inside Syria. A third cross-border aid pipeline, via the northern Kurdish region in Iraq, is expected to open soon, the executives said.The State Department appears loath to change that delivery process, which took no small amount of diplomacy to set up with contacts on the ground in Syria, as well as the governments in Ankara and Amman. Beside, U.S. officials have said, distributing aid via a shadow, unrecognized governing body would be virtually unprecedented; most everywhere else, U.S. assistance is doled out via the United Nations or partner nongovernmental organizations...The dispute over humanitarian aid comes as the Obama administration also is being criticized for refusing to provide military aid to the opposition. President Barack Obama vetoed a proposal for military assistance to the rebels that had the backing of four senior advisers, including Hillary Clinton, then the secretary of state, retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, then the CIA director, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The White House explained that rejection last week by saying lethal aid to the rebels would endanger the Syrian people, Israel and the United States – an apparent reference to the al Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front, a rebel faction that has become its leading military arm but that was added to the State Department’s list of international terrorist groups in December. New Secretary of State John Kerry has indicated that stance isn’t softening, voicing concern on several recent occasions over the involvement of the Nusra Front in the rebel movement."
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:59 PM