CIA gun-running: Qatar-Libya-Syria.

A report from CNN’s Jake Tapper has reintroduced “Benghazi-Gate” to the US media spotlight. The report claims that “dozens” of CIA operatives were on the ground in Benghazi on the night of the attack, and the CIA is going to great lengths to suppress details of them and their whereabouts being released. The report alleges that the CIA is engaged in “unprecedented” attempts to stifle employee leaks, and “intimidation” to keep the secrets of Benghazi hidden, allegedly going as far as changing the names of CIA operatives and “dispersing” them around the country.

One suspects this has a single and defined purpose – to hide the CIA’s culpability in supplying arms to known extremists in Libya and Syria. Moreover, the CNN report alludes to the CIA supplying “surface-to-air missiles” from Benghazi to rebels in Syria, but this may only be the tip of the iceberg. The report goes on to state: (my emphasis)

Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret. CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings. The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress. It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.

Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.

Although Saudi Arabia have recently been kindly given “the Syrian card” by the United States – with Prince Bandar once again becoming “Prince of the Jihad”; it has become common knowledge that since the onset of the Syrian crisis, it was Qatar at the forefront of supplying arms and funds to both the political and militant elements of the so-called “opposition”. This has undoubtedly included tacit support of the dominant radical elements among the plethora of brigades on the ground in Syria; with Jabhat al Nusra being the most obvious beneficiary of Qatari largesse. Earlier this year it was reported that the CIA had been in direct “consultation” with the Qatari Monarchys’ network of arms smugglers – run primarily from the Emir’s palace in Doha. Accordingly, it seems certain that both the CIA and Qatari intelligence were involved in an operation to ship arms stockpiles from “rebels” in Libya; to the “rebels” in Syria: both varieties of which are inextricably linked to Al Qaeda affiliates and radical Salafi-Jihadi militants.

A New York Times report from 30th March 2011 reveals that the CIA had been active in Libya “for weeks”, to “gather information for [NATO] airstrikes, and to contact and ‘vet’ the rebels battling “Gaddafi’s forces”. The New York Times report also states that Obama had signed a presidential finding in the weeks previous, which gave authority to the CIA to arm and fund the rebels. Furthermore, the Independent revealed in March 2011 that Obama had requested Saudi Arabia supply arms to the Libyan militants. Obama had also given his blessing for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to ship arms into Benghazi, urging them to supply non-US manufactured arms to avert suspicion – in violation of the No-Fly Zone and arms embargo he helped to enforce, and all in total violation of the US Constitution and International Law.

The current Libyan authorities have made little effort to disassociate themselves from reports of large-scale arms shipments bound for Syria, leaving from the port of Benghazi. As stated in a UN Security Council report; the sheer size, monetary and logistical requirement to organise such delivery would almost certainly require at least some local government knowledge and assistance, one Libyan congress-member has openly admitted as such. Moreover, in a Telegraph report from November 2011, it is noted that the post-Gaddafi Libyan military commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj – widely regarded as the former leader of Al Qaeda affiliate: the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and a lead figure in the militant uprising against Gaddafi – visited members of the Syrian opposition “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) in Turkey to discuss sending “money and weapons”, and also discussed “Libyan fighters to train troops”.

In a Fox News report from December 2012  an “International Cargo-Shipper” candidly revealed that arms shipments from Libya to Syria commenced “almost immediately after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi” (Oct 2011) and had continued on a weekly basis from multiple ports including Misrata and Benghazi. Some of the “sources” shipments were reported to be in excess of 600 tons. The report goes on to quote anonymous “sources” on the ground in Benghazi as alleging that: “Weapons and fighters were absolutely going to Syria, and the U.S. absolutely knew all about it – though most shipments have stopped since the attack on the American Consulate,”

Furthermore, an extensive UN report from the Security Council group of experts, from April 2013, also highlights the rife lawless proliferation of arms throughout Libya, and seeping beyond its borders. The report states that arms are fueling conflicts from Syria to Mali, and spreading from Libya at an “alarming rate”. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were singled out in the UN report for blatant violations of the arms embargo during the 2011 “uprising” against Gaddafi; the report revealed that multiple Qatari arms shipments had been allowed to flow into Libya with the full knowledge and acquiescence of NATO – in much the same way they have been allowed to flow into Turkey from Qatar, with Syria being the final destination.

Elements of the Libyan “military” leadership undoubtedly have strong links to former Al Qaeda affiliates, and were brought to power via Qatari largesse and special forces, CIA coordination, and a NATO airforce. Considering this, it is not hard to imagine the same actors would be willing to at least “turn a blind eye” to what has become an overt and unabated Libyan arms-smuggling route into Syria, as is once again demonstrated in this June 18th 2013 report from Reuters, titled: “The adventures of a Libyan weapons dealer in Syria:

Abdul Basit Haroun (former comander of “February 17th brigade”) says he is behind some of the biggest shipments of weapons from Libya to Syria, which he delivers on chartered flights to neighboring countries and then smuggles over the border….  A Reuters reporter was taken to an undisclosed location in Benghazi to see a container of weapons being prepared for delivery to Syria. It was stacked with boxes of ammunition, rocket launchers and various types of light and medium weapons.

Haroun says he can collect weapons from around the country and arrange for them to be delivered to the Syrian rebels because of his contacts in Libya and abroad. “They know we are sending guns to Syria,” Haroun said. “Everyone knows.” His weapon dealing activities appear to be well-known, at least in Libya’s east. Senior officials in Libya’s army and government told Reuters they backed supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition, while a member of Libya’s congress said Haroun was doing a great job of helping the Syrian rebels.

Furthermore, according to a recent New York Times report from June 29th 2013, Qatar have been carrying out arms shipments to “rebels” in Syria from Libya, since at least the same time they “stepped up efforts” to oust Colonel Gaddafi. Consequently, this can only be interpreted as Qatar commencing shipments of arms to Syria – from Benghazi – before Gaddafi had been killed, which means before October 2011.

It is highly plausible that Benghazi was indeed a CIA-run arms “buy-back” program – with the further “possible” intent of forwarding those arms to Syria. As the State Department has confirmed, it allocated $40 million dollars for the purchase and “collection” of arms used during the conflict in Libya, including a “missing” stockpile of up to 20,000 MANPADS – which at least 15,000 are still unaccounted for. A report written by former US special forces operatives who served in Libya titled “Benghazi: the definitive report”, alleges that the “consulate” and weapons stockpile program was entirely run by John Brennan – Obama’s National Security Advisor at the time and now Director of the CIA – and outside the usual CIA chain of command; with the sole purpose of “moving the stockpiled weapons to the another conflict – possibly Syria”. Furthermore, it should also be noted that several prominent US government figures (Clinton, Brennan, Patreaus, et al) were openly lobbying for that precise policy; this adds the possiblity that certain players within the government or the many factions of the Military Industrial Complex may have been acting outside of the Obama administrations specific consent – or building the logistics to fulfill such policy in the future. Thus, a possible explanation of the attack on the “consulate” – which we can now assume was a CIA operated arms cache – was the Obama administrations’ public reluctance to supply MANPADS or other specific heavy weaponry to the rebels fighting in Syria. Moreover, the authors of “Benghazi: the definitive report” claim that John Brennnan was targetting hardline Islamist militia in Libya via drone strikes and special operations, which may provide another pretext for the attack. Certain rebel factions, their regional donors, or their Libyan affiliates may have felt aggrieved and decided to act against the CIA and attempt to seize the weapons under their own volition.

The Libyan weapons route to Syria has quite possibly been ongoing since Qatari (and Western) special forces and their Libyan Al Qaeda affiliated proxies took a hold of Benghazi. In turn the shipments to Syria have gradually increased as Gaddafi’s stockpiles became available and the lawless possibilities inside Libya expanded. These developments could also explain fighters of Libyan origin representing a large percentage of foreign fighters within the oppositions ranks; with a recent study finding Libyan fighters making up over twenty percent of foreign fatalities in Syria. If Qatar were indeed coordinating arms shipments from Libya to Syria during the early stages of the Syrian crisis in 2011, and the CIA have also been “consulting” the Qatari shipments and their follow-on transit points through Turkey; then the simplistic mainstream narrative and timeline of the conflict in Syria merely erupting from the suppression of peaceful protesters, and in turn spiralling into full-blown civil-war, is again brought into doubt.

Uncovering the chain of events that led to the attack on the US “consulate”, and the variety of militia the US and its allies were arming in Libya; could in turn reveal the full extent of the Obama administrations’ support of extremist proxy-forces in Syria. Which may help to explain the administrations’ zealous attempts to stifle any debate or serious questioning of the events that surround Benghazi.

Syria: Qatar’s policy is hand in glove with the United States.

A recent report in the New York Times (NYT) claims, through trusted “sources”, that Qatar began weapons shipments to opposition militants in Syria at the same time they “increased” support for Al Qaeda-linked militants fighting Colonel Gaddafi in Libya in 2011. Gaddafi was ousted (murdered) in October 2011; one must assume that any “increase” in Qatari efforts to arm the militants in Libya were delivered long in advance of Gaddafi’s ouster, meaning the synonymous shipments to “rebels” in Syria also commenced well before October 2011.

This information again sheds further light on a timeline of events in Syria that have been purposefully obscured within mainstream media to suit certain actors agendas, and to enable the false and misleading narrative of “Assad killing peaceful protesters” to become dominant in the discourse surrounding the Syrian conflict. As was revealed earlier this year – known by many for much longer – it has been Qatar at the forefront of efforts to arm and fund the insurgency in Syria. As the resilience of the Assad government and the Syrian Army prolonged the conflict far beyond the timeframe the backers of the insurgency foresaw, more and more evidence has become available as to the exact nature of this US-led proxy-war, and the ideologies of the militants fighting it. In turn, timelines have constantly been altered, misinformed and manipulated to suit the desired narratives of actors who claim to be on the side of “freedom and democracy”.

In sum, previous to the aforementioned NYT article, there had been no reports – in mainstream press at least – of any arms shipments or covert state activity against Syria before “early 2012”. Now that timeline has once again been revised, to at least the same time of an “increase” of Qatari covert policy in Libya, which would have necessarily come before the fall of Gaddafi in October 2011.

The latest revelation in the NYT seems to be an intentional leak, designed to pass responsibility for the extremist dominated insurgency currently destroying Syria, onto Qatar’s doorstep. Considering the timing of this report, and several others in recent mainstream media that have pointed the finger at Qatar being the main sponsor of the Syrian insurgency, it also begs the question: was there more to the Qatari Emir’s, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (and his trusted and longtime Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani’s) recent departure and handover of power to his son Tamim than meets the eye? A slap on the wrist from the US for Qatar’s reckless foreign policy maybe? Who knows, it seems most knowledgable Middle East analysts  really have no clue as to why the Emir chose to suddenly step down and relinquish power. If there is one message coming from this unprecedented handover in the Western press it is this: “what goes on in Qatar, stays in Qatar”.

The NYT cites a “Western diplomat” (anonymous of course) who states that Qatar: “punch immensely above their weight,… They keep everyone off-balance by not being in anyone’s pocket… Their influence comes partly from being unpredictable,” Again, this seems to be a desired caveat to remove culpability from Western actors, and is highly likely the same “source” that provided the leak on Qatar’s covert actions.

What is counterintuitive to the theory that Qatar acts of its own accord in such instance is the fact that Qatar’s military and intelligence apparatus is entirely built and run by the United States. Qatar and the US have held an intimate relationship on all things military since the early 90’s. Qatar is also the Forward Operations center of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), and the US Combined Air Operation Center (CAOC).  The US enjoys the luxury of the use of three airbases in the tiny nation of Qatar, one of which (Al Udeid) is the prime location of Qatari arms flights to Syria. Considering this close military relationship it would be foolish to believe the United States is unaware of Qatari covert activity, particularly when one also considers the broad and global spying and SIGINT powers we now all know the Pentagon, and US government have at their disposal. It should also be noted that Doha acts as a primary base in the region for US diplomacy, as the Taliban can happily attest to.

Furthermore – as covered extensively in a previous article – once Gulf covert arms shipments to Syrian “rebels” became public knowledge, the Obama administration made distinct efforts in the media to portray the CIA as the key “coordinator” and oversight of the shipments to allay concerns of weapons ending up in the “wrong hands”. The US, through the CIA has been using its logistic, diplomatic, and military power to bypass international laws and help to organise a multi-national covert arms supply chain to “rebels” in Syria. Furthermore, in a recent interview for The National Interest given by renowned former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski – a declared advocate of the US policy of arming Osama Bin-Laden and fellow ideologues in the Afghan-Soviet war of the 80’s – went as far as to openly admit the joint US-Saudi-Qatari policy of orchestrating the Syrian crisis, but refrained from revealing an explicit timeline: (my emphasis)

In late 2011 there are outbreaks in Syria produced by a drought and abetted by two well-known autocracies in the Middle East: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He [Obama] all of a sudden announces that Assad has to go—without, apparently, any real preparation for making that happen. Then in the spring of 2012, the election year here, the CIA under General Petraeus, according to The New York Times of March 24th of this year, a very revealing article, mounts a large-scale effort to assist the Qataris and the Saudis and link them somehow with the Turks in that effort. Was this a strategic position?

Yet contrary to this long-revealed policy, the NYT claims: “The United States has little leverage over Qatar on the Syria issue because it needs the Qataris’ help on other fronts.” For the NYT to claim the US has no control of arms shipments from a key ally is disingenuous at best, outright propaganda at worst. Moreover, the CIA has been in direct “consultation” with Qatar on arms shipments, and who exactly those arms should be sent to, (vetted “moderates” of course!!) as Qatari officials stated in this Reuters article from May this year: (my emphasis)

“There’s an operations room in the Emir’s diwan (office complex), with representatives from every ministry sitting in that room, deciding how much money to allocate for Syria’s aid,” the Qatari official said. There’s a lot of consultation with the CIA, and they help Qatar with buying and moving the weapons into Syria, but just as consultants,”

Are we seriously supposed to believe that Qatar, a tiny resource-rich nation that is totally dependent on US militarism and diplomatic protection is acting of its own accord, without any US assistance, right under the US military’s nose? The NYT report goes on to state: (my emphasis)

Qatar’s covert efforts to back the Syrian rebels began at the same time that it was increasing its support for opposition fighters in Libya trying to overthrow the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi...The Obama administration quietly blessed the shipments to Libya of machine guns, automatic rifles, mortars and ammunition, but American officials later grew concerned as evidence grew that Qatar was giving the weapons to Islamic militants there.”

The Obama administration was fully aware of who Qatar were arming, and sending special forces to fight alongside in Libya. It was exactly the same variety of militants and extremist ideologues that are currently waging war upon the Syrian State. Islamic radicals had used Benghazi as a base since the very start of the Libyan “revolution”, and the US knew they formed the core of the militia Qatar were shipping arms to in efforts to oust Gaddafi. The Obama administration’s concern of MANPADS falling into the “wrong hands” (a la Afghanistan) is belied by Obama’s tacit approval of his Gulf allies’ policy of allowing tonnes of arms, explosives and military materiel to reach extremist dominated militia. A few MANPADS simply increases the likelihood of blowback upon a civilian target, and the consequent exposure – which is the Obama administration’s major concern. As the NYT report states, one of the shipments of MANPADS that has entered Syria came from the very same former Gaddafi stockpiles of Eastern bloc weapons looted by Qatari-backed militants in Libya.

In summary, the current media leaks on arms shipments to Syria can be construed as the Obama administration attempting to build plausible deniability. The constant revision of the Syrian timeline also points to the retroactive smoke-screen being applied to US-led covert policies that have already been exposed. Indeed, this tactic of using client states to gain deniability of US aggression is nothing new, such policy has provided the United States with the ultimate get-out-clause through decades of subversion and aggression upon sovereign nations.

If – as is the current trajectory in Syria – the militants that the United States and its clients foment, fund and arm, become an uncontrollable monster and fail to achieve the desired short-term objectives, the US can simply disassociate and point the finger to one of its lesser allies, on this occasion, that finger seems to point directly at the former Emir of Qatar.

One wonders if in twenty years time US “diplomats” will portray the same vacant regret for their role in the creation of Jabhat al Nusra and fellow ideologues; as they do now for their role in the creation of Al Qaeda itself. As the United States continues its divisive and destructive policies to desperately cling to imperialist hegemony in the Middle East the mantra of “lessons have been learned” becomes more hollow than ever.