[News] US intelligence admits Syria arms aid goes to Al Qaeda

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 16 18:57:32 EDT 2012

    US intelligence admits Syria arms aid goes to Al Qaeda

          By Bill Van Auken
          16 October 2012


American Intelligence officials are acknowledging that the bulk of the 
weapons flowing into Syria for the US-backed war to topple the regime of 
Bashar al-Assad are going into the hands of Al Qaeda and like-minded 
Islamist militias.

A lead article appearing in the /New York Times /Monday confirms the 
mounting reports from the region that jihadist elements are playing an 
increasingly prominent role in what has become a sectarian civil war in 

"Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to 
supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad 
are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular 
opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American 
officials and Middle Eastern diplomats," the /Times /reports.

The article reflects the growing disquiet within US ruling circles over 
the Obama administration's strategy in Syria and, more broadly, in the 
Middle East, and adds fuel to the deepening foreign policy crisis 
confronting the Democratic president with just three weeks to go until 
the election.

In the distorted public debate between Democrats and Republicans, this 
crisis has centered around the September 11 attack on the US consulate 
and a secret CIA headquarters in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi 
that claimed the lives of the US ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and 
three other Americans.

Republicans have waged an increasingly aggressive public campaign, 
indicting the Obama administration for failure to protect the American 
personnel. They have also accused the White House of attempting to cover 
up the nature of the incident, which the administration first presented 
as a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islamic video, before 
classifying it as a terrorist attack.

In Sunday television interviews, Republicans pressed this line of attack 
while Democrats countered that it was a political "witch-hunt" and that 
the initial description of the attack was based on available 
intelligence at the time.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, appearing on the NBC news program 
"Face the Nation," argued that the description of the fatal attack in 
Benghazi as a spontaneous event was politically motivated. The Obama 
reelection campaign, he charged, is "trying to sell a narrative that... 
Al Qaeda has been dismantled---and to admit that our embassy was 
attacked by Al Qaeda operatives undercuts that narrative."

What is involved, however, is not merely the disruption of an election 
campaign "narrative." The events in Benghazi blew apart the entire US 
policy both in Libya and Syria, opening up a tremendous crisis for 
American foreign policy in the region.

The forces that attacked the US consulate and CIA outpost in Benghazi 
were not merely affiliates of Al Qaeda, they were the same forces that 
Washington and its allies had armed, trained and supported with an 
intense air war in the campaign for regime-change that ended with the 
brutal murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi one year ago.

Ambassador Stevens, who was sent into Benghazi at the outset of this 
seven-month war, was the point man in forging this cynical alliance 
between US imperialism and forces and individuals that Washington had 
previously branded as "terrorists" and subjected to torture, rendition 
and imprisonment at Guantanamo.

The relationship between Washington and these forces echoed a similar 
alliance forged in the 1980s with the mujahideen and Al Qaeda itself in 
the war fostered by the CIA in Afghanistan to overthrow a government 
aligned with Moscow and to bloody the Soviet army.

Just as in Afghanistan, the Libyan arrangement has led to "blowback" for 
US imperialism. Having utilized the Islamist militias to follow up NATO 
air strikes and hunt down Gaddafi, once this goal was achieved 
Washington sought to push them aside and install trusted assets of the 
CIA and the big oil companies as the country's rulers. Resenting being 
cut out of the spoils of war, and still heavily armed, the Islamist 
forces struck back, organizing the assassination of Stevens.

The Obama administration cannot publicly explain this turn of events 
without exposing the so-called "war on terror," the ideological 
centerpiece of American foreign policy for over a decade, as a fraud, 
along with the supposedly "humanitarian" and "democratic" motives for 
the US intervention in Libya.

Moreover, it is utilizing the same forces to pursue its quest for 
regime-change in Syria, which is, in turn, aimed at weakening Iran and 
preparing for a US-Israeli war against that country. And, as the /Times/ 
article indicates, an even more spectacular form of "blowback" is being 

The /Times/ quotes an unnamed American official familiar with US 
intelligence findings as saying, "The opposition groups that are 
receiving most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don't want to 
have it."

The article points to the role of the Sunni monarchies in Qatar and 
Saudi Arabia in funneling weaponry to hard-line Islamists, based upon 
their own religious sectarian agendas in the region, which are aimed at 
curtailing the influence of Shia-dominated Iran.

It attributes the failure of CIA personnel deployed at the 
Turkish-Syrian border in attempting to vet groups receiving weapons to a 
"lack of good intelligence about many rebel figures and factions."

What the article fails to spell out, however, is precisely what "secular 
opposition groups" exist in Syria that the US wants to arm. The 
Turkish-based leaderships of the National Syrian Council and the Free 
Syrian Army have little influence and are largely discredited inside Syria.

A report issued by the International Crisis Group (ICG) on October 12 
entitled "Tentative Jihad, Syria's Fundamentalist Opposition" suggests 
that the so-called "secularist" armed opposition does not exist. It 
notes that, "the presence of a powerful Salafi strand among Syria's 
rebels has become irrefutable," along with a "slide toward ever-more 
radical and confessional discourse and... brutal tactics."

It cites the increasingly prominent role played by groups like Jabhat 
al-Nusra [the Support Front] and Kata'ib Ahrar al-Sham [the Freemen of 
Syria Battalions]," both of which unambiguously embraced the language of 
jihad and called for replacing the regime with an Islamic state based on 
Salafi principles."

Finally, it attributes the rising influence of these elements to "the 
lack of moderate, effective clerical and political leadership," under 
conditions in which more moderate Sunni elements have opposed the 
so-called "rebels."

"Overall, the absence of an assertive, pragmatic leadership, coupled 
with spiraling, at times deeply sectarian, violence inevitably played 
into more hard-line hands," the ICG report concludes.

Increasingly, elements within the US ruling establishment are citing the 
growing influence of the Islamist militias in Syria as a justification 
for a direct US military intervention. Representative of this view is 
Jackson Diehl, the /Washington Post's /chief foreign affairs editor and 
a prominent advocate of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. In an October 14 
column, Diehl describes the situation in Syria as "an emerging strategic 
disaster" attributable to Obama's "self-defeating caution in asserting 
American power."

"Fixed on his campaign slogan that 'the tide of war is receding' in the 
Middle East," Diehl writes, "Obama claims that intervention would only 
make the conflict worse---and then watches as it spreads to NATO ally 
Turkey and draws in hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters."

Chiding Romney and the Republicans for focusing on the terrorist attack 
in Benghazi, Diehl notes that this is easier than asking "war-weary 
Americans" to contemplate yet another war of aggression. Nonetheless, he 
suggests, once the election is over, such a war will be on the agenda, 
no matter who sits in the White House.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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