Following a recent “revelation” in the New York Times, corporation media has finally started to reveal what has been foretold by most with an ounce of honesty and historical knowledge of CIA and Gulf state covert activity in the middle east. That fact is that the CIA, together with intelligence agencies from Gulf autocracies such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, aswell as no doubt many a wealthy donor from the U.A.E. With tacit cooperation and involvement from Turkish and highly likely, UK and French secret services have been directly coordinating, funding, and shipping huge amounts of arms, which are then funneled illegally through Jordanian and Turkish border regions to self ascribed ‘rebels’ in Syria.
US ‘anonymous officials’ have stated that US intelligence officers “helped Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia”. A procurement originally uncovered by blogger Brown Moses and released via the NYT. The NYT article also states that US intelligence officers apparently “vetted” rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons. One thing the report skirts briefly is that US officials state the arms procurement operation has been ongoing since “early 2012”. Two prominent issue arises from this admission, and the fact this report states the Croatian operation, believed to have started in Oct/Nov 2012 was an “increase” in an arms smuggling program that began in at least “early 2012”.
The first issue is what directly correlates with this CIA arms program, and that is a synonymous increase in both civilian casualty and refugee numbers, particularly in the regions that have served as staging grounds for rebel insurgents to enter Syria. The second issue, and what is the most obvious sign of the repeat failure to implement this destructive, age-old strategy with any nuance of responsibility, is who exactly has received the lions share of the weapons? And which groups have been bolstered since the arms program commenced?
Since 2012 numbers of refugees crossing the borders of Turkey and Jordan have increased dramatically, as have casualty numbers in both populated border regions and towns, intense fighting has become a staple of supply routes funneling from Turkey and Jordan into Syria, resulting in mass exodus in regions and the levelling of entire residential blocks in towns and cities close to the borders. One overarching tactic is promoting this outcome, and that is rebel groups using border towns and villages close to CIA/GCC/Turkish “nerve centers” that enable rebels to stage attacks, resupply and receive medical treatment, as staging grounds to attack Syrian government forces. In turn the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) retaliate, often with disproportionate force and have often targeted residential areas, the government claims it is only targeting “terrorists”, but the evidence clearly suggests that the SAA’s targeting isn’t as precise as it claims to be. One must also seriously question the objectives of western-advised rebel forces, that continually set up camp in residential areas, and also continue to attack them.
The second prominent issue of what is now by the US’ own admission at least a 15 month CIA arms program into Syria, is exactly which groups of ‘rebels’ have directly benefitted from these weapons, contrary to State department rhetoric on “non-lethal” aid to “moderate” rebels, the huge rise in Salafi ideologues within the ranks of the militants can no longer be subverted or ignored, this also came to prominence toward the end of 2011. Are these things linked? One theory and obvious advantage to groups becoming or adopting Salafist ideology or branding is to appeal to hardcore Gulf donors. This tactic appears to have paid off, and whether the Syrian protesters yearning for democracy and self-determination who took up arms in early 2011 were intending on allying with Salafist extremists or not, that is certainly the case today, and the Salafist ideology is the one winning the recruitment battle. Mutual cooperation of supposed “moderate” rebel groups with hardcore Salafist battalions in several highly visible and key operations such as Taftanaz and the recent taking of Raqqah show “moderate” forces have no qualms fighting alongside extremistss. Indeed, when the western backed leader of the opposition states “we are all Jahbat al Nusra”, confusion may be excused as to what exactly the “opposition” represents. A secular democracy does not seem high on the agenda.
We learn in Aron Lund’s essay titled “The Rise of the Syrian Islamic Front” in which he documents the main Salafist battalions currently operating in Syria, that in early 2013 eleven Salafist battalions have now formed under the SIF as an umbrella group, Jabhat al Nusra was invited to the party, but declined to join the coalition presumably on the basis of its strict recruitment policies and intolerance of “moderation”. With numbers of fighters estimating in the region of 30,000 fighting for various Salafi dominated rebel groups throughout Syria, Ahrar al Sham and the SIF present a formidable fundamentalist militia. Ahrar al Sham, is thought to dominate the leadership of the SIF, which for all intents and purposes looks like a Gulf attempt at a front for the Salafi dominated groups to appeal to precious Western benefactors fearful of public reaction to State support for what are supposedly “enemies” of the “civilised world”.
This brings us back to the CIA/Gulf weapons, which have not only been seen in several of the groups fighting under the banner of the SIF hands, but also in the hands of US designated terrorist group Jahbat al Nusra. These “coincidences” and the identical footprint of UK/US led strategy of using Gulf funded Salafi/Wahhabi inspired militants in the middle east for 60 years tells us the CIA is tacitly arming, funding and coordinating with Gulf fomented and sponsored extremists all over again. And much to the detriment of the Syrian people. The US, under its self-serving strategic objectives is wilfully arming and funding the very same ideologues it claims to be fighting in the never-ending “war on terror”. Recently on the Iraqi Syrian border, when a convoy of Iraqi army vehicles escorting 48 Syrian soldiers back into Syria was ambushed and all aboard (including Iraqi army escorts) were killed the US State department felt obliged to call it a terrorist attack. This attack was undertaken by the group “The Islamic State of Iraq”, which has direct links to Al Qaeda in Iraq, of which Jabhat al Nusra is an offshoot, who just happen to cooperate with Ahrar al Sham inside Syria. The links between Salafi groups the CIA/GCC are supporting and groups the US itself deems terrorists are once again obvious. The blatant hypocrisy and moral expediency being displayed here is a continuation of western policy in the middle east for the last 60 years. Namely, using Gulf sponsorship and propagation of extremist ideology as a tool to foment radical opposition to enemy govts and in turn undermine and subvert, ideally remove regimes or governments out of the wests (and therefore the GCC’s) sphere of influence.
So, we can now safely assume that western intelligence agencies are once again allowing their Gulf client states to arm Salafist inspired militants to wage war to meet their strategic goals, either that or the CIA “vetting program” was a complete 100% failure, (which hasn’t been rectified or altered in a year, only increased). The type of militants both the KSA and Qatar have been proven to fund and sponsor, and the inevitable power these groups will demand in any post-Assad Syria, along with the intolerant and often extremist policies and ideologies promoted in their respective states do not bode well for the people of Syria.