Day 1,132: Maybe the US really is mulling sending manpads to Syria


A screenshot from a Youtube video purporting to show members of Harakat Hazm, a new moderate Syrian opposition group, firing American-made antitank missiles.

Today is Day 1,132 of the Syria conflict. Almost no one thinks holding presidential elections on June 3, as the government announced yesterday it would do, is a good idea. The opposition thinks this would be a sham election, the US has called it a "parody of democracy," the UN has suggested the government "reconsider," and The New York Times reports that "even some of the president's supporters have acknowledged that it will be difficult to hold an election during a civil war that has displaced nine million people." (Understatement of the year.)

There's a fascinating detail in The New York Times report, however. Remember yesterday's blog post discussing the possibility of the US sending the one thing the rebels really, really want, the surface-to-air missiles, or manpads, to shoot down the planes dropping the bombs? TIME magazine was saying the White House may be thinking more seriously about sending the manpads over, despite the risk that they could eventually be used for terrorist purposes. 

This new New York Times report today airs the views of an analyst with "close ties with Persian Gulf officials," who thinks new American antitank missiles like the one seen above, showing up in rebel Youtube videos recently, may "represent a softening of the American position and could have been sent in to test the capabilities of certain groups to use them correctly." 

Neither the thoughts of this analyst nor those of the anonymous Congressional aide et al quoted in the TIME piece seem all that conclusive on their own. Put together, though, it does start to look like an emerging consensus.