Tags: Emerging Threats | Iraq in Crisis | ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | Syria | War on Terrorism | Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton: 'Worth the Gamble' to Arm Syrian Rebels

By    |   Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 08:40 PM

Former President Bill Clinton says it is worth the gamble to arm Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

In an interview aired Wednesday night on CNN, Clinton acknowledged that critics are right that some of the weapons given to the Free Syrian Army could end up in the hands of ISIS or other U.S. enemies, but he said the risk of ISIS is too big not to do so.

"If we don't help people who are trying to create an open, secular, inclusive society, they will lose," Clinton said. "It's worth the gamble, I think, to try to make it work."

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ISIS has taken over large portions of eastern Syria and northern Iraq, claiming to have set up a state. The group's extremist views include killing anyone they see as an infidel. That includes not only non-Muslims, but also non-Sunnis and even Sunnis who do not subscribe to ISIS' beliefs.

President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 10 speech that the United States and its allies would begin airstrikes against ISIS in Syria in addition to airstrikes already taking place in Iraq. Those actions began this week, with help from Sunni Arab allies.

Clinton told CNN the risk is "quite significant" and threatens to change the landscape in the Middle East, redrawing national boundaries and destroying national governments.

He said Obama's strategy to use ground troops from Arab countries has a chance to succeed.

"I think what ISIS was trying to do was sucker us into putting a lot of soldiers on the ground so they could shift the blame from themselves to us for all the violence in the area," he said.

When Sunni tribal leaders who are not militant and are not twisting Islam for political purposes are willing to fight, they can reclaim their country, he said.

"We should help them do it," he added. "But it's not a fight we can win for them."

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Former President Bill Clinton says it is worth the gamble to arm Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
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Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 08:40 PM
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