President Obama is sending more spies and diplomats to Turkey’s border with Syria to train more of Syria’s rebel forces and increase the supposed vetting process put in place to weed out al-Qaeda militants, who now make up a large part of the opposition fighters.
For months the CIA has had people there on the ground funneling weapons from third party allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They were there to keep the aid coming from the US and its allies from going to Islamic extremists looking to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
But the process is made up of untrustworthy, third-party sources and intelligence officials have recently told the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times that the truth is that the US doesn’t know who is getting the money and weapons.
The Washington Post describes this ramped up US presence on the Turkish border as part of Obama’s plan “to bolster the rebels militarily without actually contributing weapons to the fight, and politically, to help them stave off internal power challenges by the well-organized and often better-funded hardline Islamic militants who have flowed into the country from Iraq and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region.”
But it isn’t accurate to say the US isn’t contributing weapons to the fight in Syria. Washington provides arms to the Gulf allies that are currently lending weapons through our CIA to the rebels, so it is an effective policy of arming the opposition fighters.
And on the second point, one would think that an expansive al-Qaeda presence fighting for regime change in Syria might dissuade the Obama administration from aiding any part of the opposition. But apparently that isn’t even enough to disrupt Washington’s plan to change the regime in Syria, in order to eliminate Iran’s main ally in the Middle East and to gain an even stronger foothold in the region.
The al-Qaead presence alone should be enough, but the Obama administration is also aiding a group of rebels that the United Nations has found have committed war crimes in the conflict.
If administration policy starts to be more successful and the Assad regime becomes destabilized enough to actually collapse, it doesn’t at all appear that there will be an appropriate alternative to rise to power – and one would that the current band of disparate rebel fighters, thugs, and al-Qaeda members wouldn’t be it.
The conflict in Syria has essentially become a convoluted proxy war, thanks most especially to US policy, that has the potential to carry on for the foreseeable future and has very dangerous potential to generate blowback and further terrorism against the US.