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Critics Of Obama's ISIS Plan Don't Trust 'Moderate' Rebels

Members of the president's own party fear U.S. weapons shipped to rebels in Syria will eventually be turned against America.
Posted at 9:44 PM, Sep 17, 2014

Wednesday's vote to arm so-called "moderate" Syrian rebels to fight ISIS saw a U.S. House divided, but not along the usual lines. Seventy-one Republicans voted no, mostly saying the action didn't go far enough.

But more notably, 85 Democrats voted against the Democratic president's plan. Their reasoning? That U.S. weapons intended to fight terror in Iraq have ended up in the hands of terrorists before — and that could happen again, especially when arming loosely-organized rebels.

REP. TULSI GABBARD, ON C-SPAN: "Presently, they're fighting shoulder to shoulder with Al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists and therefore can't be trusted."

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, ON MSNBC: "We will be involving ourselves in a ground conflict that we cannot resolve where potentially everyone involved is our enemy."

It's true that ISIS has at least one goal in common with all major Syrian rebel groups: toppling Bashar al-Assad's regime. 

The past week even saw reports of a truce signed between ISIS and the U.S.-backed Syrian National Coalition.

That report was later refuted by a Coalition official — though they remained anonymous, and some in Washington are still wondering.

But also noteworthy in Wednesday's vote was just how arbitrary it seemed, considering the CIA has been arming these rebels for the past year without Congressional approval.

NPR, CNN and others have reported on the intelligence agency's quiet campaign of giving weapons to approved rebel groups. That effort can be traced back at least to last September.

Still, Obama's plan to arm rebels and point them in ISIS' direction had more than enough support, including that of Republican House Speaker John Boehner and minority leader Nancy Pelosi. The Senate could vote on the bill Thursday or tuck it into a wider spending bill. Either way, it's expected to pass.

This video contains images from Getty Images.