Francis A. Boyle, an international law expert and professor of law at the University of Illinois, said in an email Sunday that a license recently granted by the U.S. Treasury to the Syrian Support Group (SSG), which allows it to funnel money directly to the "rebel" Free Syrian Army (FSA), "is clearly putting the United States government in violation of international law."
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supports the issuance of the license, as does Barack Obama.
According to Mr. Boyle, the U.S. government has breached the "United Nations Charter article 2(4) prohibition on the threat and use of force in international relations and the basic principle of customary international law prohibiting the interference into the domestic affairs of another state."
Mr. Boyle also noted that earlier in his Senate career, John Kerry had opposed the clandestine funneling of weapons to the Contras, who were fighting a civil war against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Sen. Kerry's support for the SSG license "reminds me of the support the Reagan administration gave to the Contra forces in Honduras for use against the Government of Nicaragua that was condemned as a violation of international law by the International Court of Justice in the case of Nicaragua v. United States of America in 1986," Mr. Boyle said.
The Worcester Sunday Telegram and Gazette notes Sunday that the Treasury license, which allows the FSA to use funds raised by the SSG to buy military hardware and weapons, excepts the SSG from sanctions that Barack Obama has imposed on Syria forbidding trade and monetary transactions. Najib E. Saliba, a history professor at Worcester State University and Middle East expert, told the Sunday Telegram that Syria today "is becoming like the Afghanistan of the 1970s and 1980s—when we [the U.S.] produced someone known as Osama bin Laden" as part of the country's policy of arming Islamic militants during the U.S. covert war against the former Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan.