To: President Donald Trump, The United States House of Representatives, and The United States Senate
Congress: Don’t Let CIA Send Anti-Aircraft Weapons to Syria
Congress should explicitly prohibit the Central Intelligence Agency from shipping or facilitating the transfer to Syria of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, or “manpads,” that can shoot down civilian aircraft. President Obama should stick to the U.S. commitment not to transfer these weapons that endanger civil aviation into Syria’s sectarian civil war.
Why is this important?
On March 28, AP and other media reported that under pressure from Saudi Arabia, the U.S. was considering allowing shipments of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, or “manpads,” to Syrian rebels. (1) These dangerous weapons can be used to shoot down civilian aircraft. While U.S. officials previously ruled out the transfer of manpads to Syria, a senior U.S. official said “it was being considered anew,” AP reported.
On March 31, a State Department spokeswoman said that there had been no change in the U.S. position, and that the U.S. had not discussed the issue with Saudi Arabia. (2)
Unfortunately, when it comes to CIA “covert” actions, U.S. officials sometimes publicly deny things that they are in fact doing or thinking of doing. And once these actions start, they are very difficult to stop.
If President Obama were to approve the supply of manpads to Syrian rebels, he would violate several international antiterrorism agreements that prohibit the supply of manpads to non-state actors. This would put air travelers at risk and destroy the international anti-terrorism norm against supplying manpads to non-state actors. In the past, weapons transferred to “moderate rebels” in Syria have wound up in the hands of Al Qaeda-types. (3)
Urge Congress and President Obama to oppose the transfer of manpads to Syria by signing our petition.
1. “Saudi Arabia: Obama seeks to ease backlash over Syria: US president said to be considering sending air defence systems to Syrian rebels following discussion with King Abdullah,” Associated Press/The Guardian, March 28 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/29/obama-king-abdullah-saudi-arabia-air-defence
2. Daily Press Briefing, State Department, March 31, 2014,
3. “Obama Approval of Manpads for Rebels Would Violate US Agreements, Policy, and Endanger Airliners,” James McMichael, Syria Comment, March 26, 2014, http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/obama-approval-manpads-rebels-violate-us-agreements-policy-endanger-airliners-james-mcmichael/