Hillary Clinton: I Wanted to Arm Syrian Rebels, but Obama Refused

In soon to be released memoir, former secretary of state says Syria is a 'wicked problem,' CBS reports.

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with President Obama, January 24, 2012.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with President Obama, January 24, 2012. Credit: AFP
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Haaretz

Hillary Clinton's soon to be released memoir reveals that the former U.S. secretary of state wanted the United States to arm the Syrian rebels against Syrian President Bashar Assad, but that she was shot down by U.S. President Barack Obama.

"I returned to Washington reasonably confident that if we decided to begin arming and training moderate Syrian rebels, we could put in place effective coordination with our regional partners," Clinton wrote in her memoir, a copy of which was obtained by CBS.

However, Obama was of a different mind. "The President's inclination was to stay the present course and not take the significant further step of arming rebels. No one likes to lose a debate, including me. But this was the President's call and I respected his deliberations and decision," CBS cites Clinton as writing.

Syria's three-year conflict has claimed the lives of over 160,000 people, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported in March, a harrowing figure that reflects the relentless bloodletting in a civil war that appears no closer to being resolved.

In her memoir, Clinton said that the Syrian civil war as a "wicked problem a term used by planning experts to describe particularly complex challenges that confound standard solutions and approaches. Wicked problems rarely have a right answer; in fact, part of what makes them wicked is that every option appears worse than the next. Increasingly that's how Syria appeared."

The debate in the United States over the arming of Syrian rebels is ongoing, with some pushing for more active support of anti-Assad elements and others raising concerns that weapons delivered to the rebels may end up in the hands of radical Islamist elements.

Most recently, in January it was reported the U.S. Congress secretly approved supplying light arms, including anti-tank rockets, to "moderate" Syrian rebels.

In March the German Weekly Der Spiegel reported the U.S. is training Syrian anti-government fighters in Jordan. Britain's Guardian newspaper also reported that U.S. trainers were assisting Syrian rebels in Jordan. British and French instructors were also participating in the U.S.-led effort, the Guardian reported, citing Jordanian security sources.

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