home AECA, Export Controls, national security, Trade Security & Related Advanced U.S. Defense Toys May Be In Hands of Syrian Rebels

Advanced U.S. Defense Toys May Be In Hands of Syrian Rebels

Whose arming the Free Syrian Army? According to a sparsely sourced story at the Daily Caller today, could be the United States. I would usually not post these items, however, it is rare to see a story citing export controls, much less the International Traffic in Arms Regulations popularly known to legal practitioners and policy wonks as the ITAR.

There can be only one of three ways that Syrian rebels came in to possession of U.S.-controlled defense articles: (1) the U.S. government licensed a U.S. corporation to export the defense articles (highly unlikely); (2) the U.S. government authorized a foreign government or other third party entity to re-export equipment already in legal possession by the foreign government or other party (very possible); or (3) illegally from parties unknown (very possible).

Arming the Syrian rebels is politically volatile in this town. I just do not see the Obama Administration risking upsetting some very powerful Members of Congress over it, at least not yet. Assuming this reasoning holds, then the only the other two scenarios seem the most plausible.

Whatever is afoot, that short Daily Caller story will surely catch the attention of folks on the Hill. Expect to hear more about it. In the meantime, if the Syrian rebels are using some type of U.S. equipment, let’s hope it’s some third generation version of the products. It is not necessarily the Syrians that should be of concern.

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