FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

US Aids Syrian Rebels

What began in Syria as modest protests in 2011 driven largely by widespread hunger from four years of drought in the Middle East’s breadbasket known as the Fertile Crescent  (including Iraq), grew into a full scale civil war with unbelievable suffering thanks to foreign intervenors intent on ousting Syrian President Bashar alAssad.   According to the UN, famine conditions are expected to continue for the foreseeable future and now threaten to exacerbate an already dire refugee crisis.

Late last summer, the American public spoke with one voice in opposition to the Obama Administration’s proposed bombing of Syria.  Even as Secretary of State John Kerry promised an “unbelievably small” strike, the response from Americans spanned the political spectrum with a resounding No.    The denial of the British Parliament’s participation in the strike on Syria represented a historic break with US policy as Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated (at Pope Francis’ behest) negotiations to rid Syria of its chemical weapons; providing President Obama with an opportunity to avoid a disastrous foreign policy blunder.

Imagine today’s reaction if the American people knew that the US is, in fact, invigorating the war in Syria – true, there are no boots on the ground; at least no boots that we know for certain are American boots but who would be willing to bet that somewhere between Aleppo and Damascus there is a US military presence engaged in perpetuating the violence.  The American public deserves to know.

While Ahmad al-Jarba, president of Syria’s National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces visited  President Obama and National Security Adviser Susan Rice last week seeking support for anti-aircraft missiles, the President warned of “risks posed by growing extremism in Syria and  on the need to counter terrorist groups on all sides of the conflict.”  With all of its sophisticated intel and CIA presence, it is difficult to believe that the president remains unaware of the growing liaison between the mythical ‘moderate’ Coalition and radical Sunni extremists.

Is the president aware of  Coalition leader Jarba’s criminal background in Saudi Arabia?

In the White House ‘readout’  of his meeting with Jarba, a shady character with close ties to the Sunni monarchy in Saudi Arabia,  the president “reaffirmed that Bashar al-Assad has lost all legitimacy to rule Syria” but the president cannot be unaware that the loss of the strategically important city of Homs represents a distinct shift over the last several months with the opposition, which  has never been able to solidify a base of support with the Syrian population, having now ‘surrendered’ a distinct military advantage.     With evidence of a growing split amongst the armed extremists themselves, how does the US  identify the difference between multiple islamist rebel groups  and  how do we know, with any certainty, where  their loyalties lie?

In an earlier meeting with Jarba and despite Secretary of State John Kerry touting a “negotiated political settlement that puts an end to the violence,” the White House approved the use of American-made anti-tank missiles to Jarba’s Coalition eschewing the Administration’s earlier concern that such weapons could eventually end up in the hands of al-Qaeda related groups and  pose a threat to commercial aircraft.  That same day, UN Special Envoy for Peace Lakhdar Brahimi resigned.   What intelligence did the President receive to accelerate the proxy war to justify US weaponry to the rebels?

Despite a ceasefire that returned Homs to the Syrian military marking a significant turn in the conflict with Assad seen as more firmly in control, other high-level US officials met with Jarba who remained in hot pursuit of surface-to-air missiles. After making the diplomatic rounds, the Coalition was awarded with official foreign mission status since the US gave up on a negotiated settlement and suspended its relationship with the Syrian Embassy in March thereby ceasing all diplomatic contact.  An additional $27 million was pledged to the rebel cause bringing the total to $287 million in non-lethal military aid in addition to the $1.7 billion in ‘humanitarian’ aid; complemented by weapons and additional funds from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Conferring official diplomatic status on the rebel group appears to be a replay of the State Department role in Libya when the US officially recognized a questionable opposition force as it engineered the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi.   A more moderate ruler than acknowledged, Qaddafi was less a fan of international financiers and the existing monetary structure than permissible.   Today, the US State Department, which had a hand in Qaddafi’s removal, considers Libya a ‘safe haven’ for terrorists.  Has anyone in the White House or the National Security Council (which apparently has more influence formulating  foreign policy than the State Department) learned anything from former DOD Secretary Robert Gates caution in Duty regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan interventions that “We entered both countries oblivious to how little we knew.”

As reported by IntelNews.org, the agreed to ‘pilot program’  will provide sophisticated weapons to Syrian rebels as part of “new clandestine program” to be coordinated by US and Saudi intelligence in “close collaboration.”  In early April, Israel’s Debkafile reported that the Pentagon had supplied Syrian rebels with the powerful armor-piercing, optically-guided BGM-71 TOW missiles.   Citing anonymous military sources, Debkafile further reported that US Joint Chief Chair Gen. Martin Dempsey requested Israeli officials to help Saudi Arabian fighter jets provide air cover as American forces moved the weapons into southern Syria. The Jerusalem Post reported that during their visit in Riyadh in late March, Obama assured King Abdullah that Saudi concerns that “Washington was slowly disengaging from the Middle East and no longer listening to its old ally were unfounded.”  If the Wall Street Journal and the international media report on budding cooperation between US-supported ‘moderates’ and the Islamic Front as long ago as last January, does the President of the United States have that information at his fingertips?

While the Administration’s public position had been no weapons to Syria, the American public remains unaware that in December, 2013 the Congress (via classified Defense appropriation bills) secretly agreed to provide small anti-tank rockets.   In other words, several months after the bombing of Syria was shelved by popular demand, the Congress and Administration used a back-door to circumvent public opinion and provide weapons to the ‘moderate’ rebels.  Why would the rocket shipment be kept secret other than in fear of the American public’s reaction?

Of more immediate concern is the news of a major shift in US policy that up to 13,000 troops  have arrived in Jordan and Israel for ‘joint exercises’ near the Syrian border and the deployment of  two Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean off the Israeli coast with additional US reinforcements due  to arrive in Aqaba, Jordan this weekend.  Hezbollah, a long time Syrian ally, is reportedly on the move to south Syria to reinforce the outnumbered Syrian Army.   At stake is control of areas in the Golan Heights and control of a highway from Quenitra to Damascus, recently abandoned by the rebels.   A phone call initiated by President Obama to the King of Jordan regarding the situation in Syria does not bode well for peace.

The timeline of events raise considerable questions of exactly what role American public opinion  plays in the government’s foreign policy decision-making – an issue of contention since the 1960’s war in Vietnam.   As if all of the unanswerable questions were not troubling enough to conclude that US foreign policy is a distorted mish-mash beyond comprehension, US Joint Chief General Martin Dempsey spoke recently to the Atlantic Council indicating that Syria would not necessarily benefit from removal of Assad and offered a less than enthusiastic appraisal of the ‘rebels’ as not having the necessary ‘counterterrorism capability’ to defeat the al-Qaeda related groups.  In Pentagon-ese lingo, one guess is that Dempsey, who has proven to be a thoughtful Chief, is saying No – just like the American people.

Renee Parsons was a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives and a lobbyist on nuclear energy issues with Friends of the Earth.  in 2005, she was elected to the Durango City Council and served as Councilor and Mayor.  Currently, she is a member of the Treasure Coast ACLU Board.

 

More articles by:

Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 19, 2019
Richard Falk
Burning Amazonia, Denying Climate Change, Devastating Syria, Starving Yemen, and Ignoring Kashmir
Charles Pierson
With Enemies Like These, Trump Doesn’t Need Friends
Lawrence Davidson
The Sorry State of the Nobel Peace Prize
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Scourge in the White House
Urvashi Sarkar
“Not a Blade of Grass Grew:” Living on the Edge of the Climate Crisis in the Sandarbans of West Bengal
Thomas Knapp
Trump and Netanyahu: “Mutual Defense” or Just Mutual Political Back-Scratching?
Dean Baker
Is There Any Lesser Authority Than Alan Greenspan?
Gary Leupp
Warren’s Ethnic Issue Should Not Go Away
George Ochenski
Memo to Trump: Water Runs Downhill
Jeff Cohen
What George Carlin Taught Us about Media Propaganda by Omission
Stephen Martin
The Perspicacity of Mcluhan and Panopticonic Plans of the MIC
September 18, 2019
Kenneth Surin
An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour “Antisemitism Crisis”
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Crown Prince Plans to Make Us Forget About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Before the US Election
W. T. Whitney
Political Struggle and Fixing Cuba’s Economy
Ron Jacobs
Support the Climate Strike, Not a Military Strike
John Kendall Hawkins
Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”
Ted Rall
Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can’t Be Trusted
William Astore
The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
Dave Lindorff
Why on Earth Would the US Go to War with Iran over an Attack on Saudi Oil Refineries?
Binoy Kampmark
Doctored Admissions: the University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem
Jeremy Corbyn
Creating a Society of Hope and Inclusion: Speech to the TUC
Zhivko Illeieff
Why You Should Care About #ShutDownDC and the Global Climate Strike  
Catherine Tumber
Land Without Bread: the Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail