Obama’s reluctance to arm rebels elsewhere stiffened by attack on MH17

Bloomberg reports: The downing of a Malaysian passenger aircraft in Ukraine may stiffen Obama administration resistance to providing heavy armaments to rebels — or even besieged governments — seeking U.S. help in hotspots around the world.

In the wake of the Malaysia Airlines disaster, President Barack Obama has raised the risk that weapons could be misused in his discussions with aides about the U.S. possibly arming fighters it supports, according to an administration official familiar with the discussions.

The U.S. says a Russian-made missile probably fired by the pro-Russian insurgents brought down the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in Ukraine, killing 298 people.

The separatists also have shot down military aircraft. In the latest attacks, separatists downed two Ukrainian fighter jets in Donetsk, the same eastern region where flight MH17 was hit, the Ukraine defense ministry said today.

The lethal success of the Ukrainian rebels now is playing into White House calculations of U.S. arms assistance. Aid to the Syrian opposition, as well as to the governments under siege in Ukraine and Iraq, is part of the discussion, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. [Continue reading…]

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