President-elect Donald Trump is planning a major overhaul to US policy in Syria, and that’s got the putative “moderate” rebels that have been getting US funds and weapons fretting, as the CIA program responsible for smuggling that gear in is set to be cancelled.
The CIA has been eager to regularly increase the amount of weapons provided to the rebels, and has sought to shift the focus of US policy in Syria toward imposing regime change, and to dial down efforts to go after ISIS. Trump campaigned on the oppose, moving away from the regime change efforts and focusing on fighting ISIS.
Some of the rebels are hoping Trump’s opposition to arming them directly might actually work out in their favor, theorizing that without direct US involvement, Trump will be more ambivalent about what the Saudis give the rebels, allowing Saudi forces to throw ever more advanced arms at them.
While President Obama continued arming the rebels despite their ineffectiveness on the battle field and growing signs that they were aligning with Islamist factions within Syria, he limited the types of weapons the Saudis could smuggle in to them, particularly anti-aircraft weapons that might end up used against civilian aircraft, or given to Islamist groups that might attack US planes.
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