The Obama Administration’s plans to provide arms and other equipment to secular Syrian rebels took a lot of planning, but finally began in earnest in recent days, as massive amounts of goods bound for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) started crossing the border from Reyhanli, Turkey into a warehouse in Atmeh, in northern Syria.
The plan was controversial, with a lot of fear that the goods would eventually start falling into the hands of al-Qaeda and other Islamist factions, and that seems to have been putting it mildly, as the whole warehouse in Atmeh was almost immediately captured by al-Qaeda.
Thousands of US made tents and other equipment meant for the FSA never ended up in the hands of those rebel fighters, and instead is all under the control of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). To make matters worse, the FSA commanders who were overseeing the transfer at the warehouse were all captured by AQI and are now awaiting trial in AQI-run religious courts.
US officials are now reportedly looking to revamp their supply methods yet again, but this misses the point that once the goods cross into Syria, such problems are inevitable.
This is exactly why the major border crossings into pro-rebel Turkey are so hotly contested by rebel factions, as controlling a crossing allows a faction to demand a cut from everything entering through that territory, and in the cases of US supplies, where “sharing” is considered out of bounds, there is little to stop AQI or whoever else from seizing the equipment outright.