Syrian Conflict: CIA at the Service of Insurgents

September 16, 2013

The CIA has begun the delivery of weapons to detachments of the Syrian opposition. For now it’s a question of only firearms, ammunition, and communications devices. All of this is necessary to wage combat in cities in small groups. This fact once again confirms the wish of Washington to continue the escalation of the civil war in Syria, right up to the victory of the opposition.

Transit Through Turkey and Jordan

CNN and Washington Post simultaneously reported that the CIA has begun to deliver weapons to the Syrian opposition. According to these media reports, the weapons began to go to detachments of insurgents two weeks ago, during the most acute moment of the worsening crisis, when the threats by President Barack Obama to strike Syrian territory became known, in order to “punish the regime of Bashar Al-Assad for the alleged use of chemical weapons.” Primarily, the deliveries include automobiles, firearms, ammunition, communications devices and also “new forms of non-lethal equipment for the rebels.”

If we are to believe the sources cited by American media, the USA for now is refusing to supply the enemies of Bashar Assad with guided anti-tank missiles and portable surface-to-air missile systems. However, previously reports appeared in the press that besides the automatic weapons and hand grenades, the rebels are receiving highly-effective, modern anti-tank weapons and armor-piercing shells. These deliveries are being expedited not through the CIA but through a “support group” for fighters paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The channels for these deliveries have turned out to be the traditional ones. According to a representative of the opposition cited by the media, “the CIA deliveries are made through a network of underground bases in Turkey and Jordan, the number of which increased in the last year in connection with the fact that the Agency (the CIA) tried to provide help to the Middle Eastern allies of the USA, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in supplying arms to Syrian rebel forces.” It is also reported that in the south of Turkey, a “visiting team” of CIA agents has been working for several weeks looking for recipients of military aid, and also helping to send it across the border.

It is worth recalling that the CIA mission in the Syrian border zone is not limited to delivery of weapons. This organization has provided many other facilitating functions. For example, the CIA shares intelligence information obtained from radio intercepts with the rebels; provides closed channels for their communications; and organizes training in special camps for “fighters against the Assad regime.”

There’s nothing new here. The CIA fulfilled this mission in Libya, during the armed conflict between the opposition and supporters of Qaddafi. And in any other country where a region “unfriendly” to Washington must be overthrown. Let us recall Cuba and Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s. In the current situation, what is new is that we are observing how a secret intelligence operation is turning into the state policy of the Obama Administration. Furthermore, the consequences of these steps have clearly not been taken into consideration.

Aid from a Wide Assortment of “Friends”

The Syrian opposition has been receiving the most diverse aid and support – including weapons – for several years. To be sure, before this past summer, such support was made unofficially – through intelligence agencies, but without the authorization of governments. After the European Union lifted the arms embargo on the Syrian opposition on 1 June, the process of arming the fighters was virtually legalized. Within several days after the EU decision, a conference of “Friends of Syria” was convened in Doha (in the list of friends are Great Britain, Germany, Egypt, Jordan, Italy, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the US, Turkey, and France). A decision was made at this meeting to centralize the arms deliveries to the Syrian opposition groups. Roles were even assigned among the countries. Saudi Arabia and Qatar would provide the rebels everything that they could, virtually without any restrictions (including portable anti-missile systems and armor-piercing missiles). But the Western countries would undertake “neutral and humane deliveries” (communications devices, bullet-proof jackets, night-vision goggles, MREs, and medicines).

For the sake of fairness it must be noted that until recently, although it was among the “Friends of Syria,” Washington refrained from delivering arms to the Syrian opposition. At least, officially, the current American administration did not admit this. There were reasons for this – in the ranks of the Syria opposition, fighters from extremist groups have played an active role, including terrorists from the Al Nusra Front directly connected to Al Qaeda. The following figures were even cited in the American press: if the overall number of the Syrian opposition was approximately 100,000 people, then 25 percent of them could belong to extremist organizations.

The very fact that the CIA’s arms deliveries were publicized indicates that now the US is reviewing its position. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed this last week when he said that only recently, the Syrian opposition complained about delays of deliveries of some forms of help, but now it is getting them.

Moreover, the voicse of the opposition members themselves were heard. Halid Salej, representative of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NCSROF) also confirmed the weapons delivery. Furthermore, he said that the “assortment” of aid had changed; if before, the US had sent only “non-lethal equipment,” now they were “providing several forms of weapons.” The main recipient was the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, headed by Salim Idris. This was the group that was able to convince Washington that their weapons “will not fall into the wrong hands.”

Halid Saleh welcomed the weapons shipment, but believed that “they were not sufficient to turn the situation of the civil war.”

“If you compare what we are getting with what Assad gets from Iran and Russia, then we are facing some long battles still,” he complained to the American press.

Any Means to Overthrow Assad

To think, however, that under the conditions of battle one can deliver weapons to one group and believe that it will not wind up in the hands of another, is at a minimum presumptuous. For three years now, the internal armed conflict in Syria has continued and this same “moderate” Supreme Military Council has taken part in joint combat operations with extremist groups, including sub-divisions of Al Qaeda. It is impossible to separate these groups. Those representatives of the opposition who speak about a future Syria as a secular democratic state and who visit the offices of the State Department are fighting shoulder to shoulder with those who eat human hearts and shoot women and children only because they belong to another religion. Likely we should not dissemble here. The American media has reported that one of the channels for delivering equipment to the rebels is through the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Most likely, people in Washington understand that under the current conditions, separating fighters into “good” and “bad” is impossible. They also understand the entire relative nature of the “guarantees” which the “recipients” of military aid are providing. But evidently, the desire to overthrow “the Assad regime” overcomes the feeling of aversion.

Hence the weapons deliveries and the political statement that Assad must step down. And all of this is unfolding against the backdrop of talks between Russia and the US regarding a plan to take chemical weapons in Syria under control. If the American administration has chosen such an approach to settlement of the conflict, then it will not lead to anything good. The weapons sent to fighters in Syria soon or later will be fired at American soldiers. Let us recall Afghanistan.