Syria Live Coverage: Getting the Story Wrong on US Intervention

0644 GMT – 31 Mar 2013 : US Intervention. I begin this morning with a high-profile story in The Wall Street Journal which goes badly wrong.

Under the headline TITLE, Adam Entous purportedly lays out the history of Obama Administration response to the Syrian conflict: “Two years into the bloodiest chapter of the Arab Spring, the administration, under pressure from lawmakers and allies, has only taken halting steps to help provide training, equipment and intelligence to moderate rebel fighters.”

There is some value in the article in its description of American policy debate in 2012, notably the consideration of a no-fly zone in northern Syria — which supposedly died because of Turkish objections in August.

But then the investigation, fed by US officials, goes astray. It has no information beyond November, when it asserts that proposals for interventions “died” because of a warning from a CIA “Red Team” that the arms supplies to insurgents would not dislodge President Assad. A CIA group may have put forward that memorandum, but it was only part of a larger discussion, following complications and concerns in the autumn over arms supplies as the factions within the insurgency — some of them “extremist” and even “terrorist” — came into focus for the Administration. By December, the decision was not to cut off arms supplies but to try and shape a “moderate” insurgency by providing arms supplies to the “right” groups. Thus, a far different story from that in the Journal has been unfolding.