WASHINGTON, June 30, 2014 — Sunday’s USA Today headline, ‘Obama Seeks $500 Million To Train And Equip Syrian Opposition’ seemed surreal. Communities Digital News had just published a report, The crisis of ISIS in Iraq: was America the midwife? detailing how the Obama administration had already covertly provided training and arms to what has become the juggernaut known as ISIS, that is now in control of large swaths of Iraq, including Fallujah – a stronghold our Marines fought valiantly to secure.
Obama’s apologists struggle to maintain plausible deniability on the part of the President in the many scandals accumulated by his Administration. The first time a seemingly corrupt administration policy is exposed, it can be shrugged off by some as “a well intentioned error”, but not accountable to the White House. That’s how “Operation Fast and Furious,” the deliberate transfer of rifles and guns to Mexican drug cartels, was pawned off and that’s how every serious breach of the nation’s laws since then, have been characterized by Democrats and their media cronies.
But here, we have a brazen return to a disastrous policy that can either be compared to Einstein’s (apocryphal) description of insanity, or could conceivably be categorized as war crimes and treason. And in fact, the very armed extremists that the West has equipped, have been condemned by U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, of brutality and mass executions of civilians.
From Obama’s recent speech at West Point:
“I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators, as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across Syria’s borders.”
Almost no one outside the administration concurs with Obama’s discredited premise. Michael Jansen of the Irish Times, has documented that the Islamic Front that Obama proposes to deal with yet again, are already being funded and organized by the Saudis. As to their being ‘moderate’, one might ask if the killing of 15 civilians last December by combined forces of Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic Front in Adra, Syria seems moderate. The Irish Times describes the Islamic Front as an ultra-orthodox Salafi alliance.
The concept of moderate factions among anti-government insurgents in Syria, is outmoded at this point and has been for quite some time. The Free Syrian Army is now a virtual non-entity, if it ever had any legitimacy. Its last gasp appears to be in November 2013, when FSA units were overwhelmed by the Islamic Front and FSA’s stockpiles of U.S. supplied weapons were seized. Those weapons are now in the hands of fundamentalists and being used to murder civilians and American allies in Syria and Iraq. In fact, surveillance video has revealed that surviving elements of the FSA have been enlisting in al-Nusra and ISIS, likely because al-Nusra and ISIS are better funded and equipped and the pay is better.
It is remarkable to look at the recent confused and contradictory behavior of the Obama administration in Syria, after it already had the benefit of the lessons of failure in Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan. In March 2013, Time magazine reported that the “Administration sees arming the rebels — a plethora of small armed groups, some of the most effective among them being jihadists, and lacking a single overarching chain of command or political leadership — as a risky bet.”
But despite this, they then proceeded to deviate from their own accurate assessment of the facts on the ground. The U.K. Daily Telegraph’s Richard Spencer reported last March that:
3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November. The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbours. But the report added that as well as from Croatia, weapons came “from several other European countries including Britain”, without specifying if they were British-supplied or British-procured arms.
We now know that these and other massive shipments of weapons, including those taken by al-Qaida affiliates from the Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, are in the hands of jihadists in Syria and Iraq, and may threaten some of the very allies that cooperated in equipping and training these terrorist groups. As the New York Times reported last year in a report titled “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With C.I.A. Aid”:
The US State Department had announced hundreds of millions of dollars more in aid, equipment and even armored vehicles to militants operating in Syria, along with demands of its allies to “match” the funding to reach a goal of over a billion dollars.
Time and space don’t allow us to detail the enormity of the funding, training and supplying of Sunni fundamentalists by the U.S. and other members of N.A.T.O. More outlines of this are found in our earlier report, here.
Sharmine Narwani, a political analyst and commentator on Mideast geopolitics and a senior associate at St Antony’s College, Oxford University, says of the latest proposal to equip so-called moderates:
“There’s no clear understanding of where that support would go. The State Department can’t even name the moderate opposition. There is also the problem of the fungibility of the weapons between these groups as members move from one group to another to go wherever there’s funding. We saw al-Nusra with [an American-made] Tow missile.”
The acting defense minister of the rag tag remnants of Syrian opposition forces, Muhammad Nour al Khallouf, states, “Syria is full of different terrorist groups. We need a huge amount of supplies to get rid of all kinds of other groups”. Al Khallouf claims that there are al-Nusra fighters who are not jihadists and that don’t envision Islamist rule as their objective. He contends that after the Assad regime is ousted in Syria that they will return peacefully to their villages and go back to their former professions.
The New York Times contradicts this narrative in another article “Islamist Rebels Create Dilemma on Syria Policy” :
Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government. Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.
Obama talks about ‘vetting’ the recipients of weapons. Virtually any counter-terrorism expert you could survey thinks that is a dangerously naive concept. Would they perform individual background checks? Go interview their neighbors?
Whenever a president expresses the intent to lobby Congress to approve a failed policy that he’s already orchestrated and acted on covertly, it indicates that his administration believes there is no risk of having its agenda scrutinized. That appears to be the case here.
Americans need to be informed on who the players are in this latest chessboard move and the extent of the security risk, to us and to the innocents that will continue to face the weapons and aid we’re supplying to radical jihadists. It was a constitutional violation and a violation of international law last time. This time it will be outright treason.