Is the US Training Syrian Rebels to Take the Golan Heights and Shoot Down Israeli Aircraft?

March 14, 2013 12:59 am 2 comments

Free Syrian Army rebels cleaning their AK47s in Aleppo, Syria, during the country's civil war on Oct. 19, 2012. Photo: VOA News/Wikimedia Commons.

No, they don’t say it quite like that. But after years of hypocrisy, the Obama administration has admitted that while it declined to arm Syrian rebels directly for fear that weapons would end up in the hands of al-Qaeda forces, it has been quietly vetting and training anti-Assad forces while others provided weapons all around. Now the training is out in the open, and Secretary of State Kerry has pledged $60 million in “non-lethal aid” to the rebels. (Plus $250 million to Egypt, while Israel may take a hit of $150 million from sequestration — makes you wonder.)

American assistance is supposed to go only to “moderate” rebels, but arms have been flowing freely, paid for by American “allies” Qatar and Saudi Arabia and moving through Turkey. Recently, a source with ties to Israeli intelligence claimed that a supply line has been running from Bosnian extremist groups, outside the control, influence, or even vision of the U.S. and its allies. Libya and al-Qaeda in Iraq have also been conduits for weapons to rebel militias, and last week, 48 Syrian government soldiers and officials were killed in Anbar Province, an al-Qaeda stronghold.

Israel expects to see any and all weapons, including some of the estimated 15,000 surface-to-air missiles the U.S. admits “disappeared” from Libya, aimed in its direction.

More than a year ago, Maj. Gen. Avi Kochavi, chief of IDF Intelligence, warned that al-Qaeda had moved into the buffer zone that separates Israel and Syria, which had been at least nominally in the hands of U.N. peacekeepers since 1974. Last week, Syrian rebel groups captured 21 Filipino peacekeepers from their Golan Heights enclave and caused others to flee into Israel. Croatia announced that it is removing its 100 soldiers, and Israel fears that others may follow. Kochavi said that should Assad fall, the rebels would aim straight at Israel; Syrian rebel groups agree.

It was Israeli intelligence reports that Assad was moving his chemical weapons that first brought American Special Forces to Turkey and Jordan in 2012, hoping to train Syrian rebels to secure the arsenal before Assad or Hezb’allah moved it to Lebanon or used it. The irony of planning to entrust chemical weapons capability to rebels to whom they wouldn’t give guns appears to have escaped the Americans.

British papers report that the U.S., Britain, and France are now working together with high-ranking Syrian defectors at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center near Amman. EU guidelines on the Syrian arms embargo allow military training as long as the aim is “the protection of civilians.” This is nebulous at best, harking back to “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), the announced basis of American intervention in Libya. Only this time, we’re apparently training Syrians to do the protecting, raising the question of what weapons they will use, since the U.S. doesn’t yet admit to providing any.

The Guardian (U.K.) quotes an EU official in Brussels acknowledging, “It’s deliberately hazy. When it comes to technical assistance, what it means in practice depends on whom you ask. The Brits and the French, for example, are much more forward leaning than others. The principle is that the assistance should be for the protection of civilians, but as we saw in Libya, that can be interpreted in different ways.”

In Libya, “technical assistance” was interpreted by the Western allies to include bombing government assets and permitting militias, including known al-Qaeda militias, to oust Gaddafi and take control of the government’s arsenal. The arsenal was then distributed. Some went to Tuareg militias and their al-Qaeda partners, resulting in the war in Mali. Some traveled through Sinai, headed for Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Some went to Syrian rebels. Shortly after Gaddafi’s death, Libyan rebel leaders met with Syrian rebels under Turkish auspices and offered them arms. It wasn’t a secret; Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi of the al-Qaeda-related Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIF) was interviewed in Il Sole and the U.K. Telegraph. Throughout 2012, weapons shipments from Libya to Syria via Turkey or Lebanon were openly reported in the press (here and here, for example).

The United States, France, and Britain claim to be training their own Syrian rebel force, either to help overthrow Assad or to help ensure a peaceful transition after he’s gone. But there’s that pesky weapons question again. Whether the rebels are supposed to kill government soldiers, or be prepared to kill “jihadists” after the war to prevent a jihadist government, with what are they supposed to do it?

Is the U.S. honestly sure our “moderate” rebel friends aren’t using the al-Qaeda pipeline on the side? Or are we cynically sure they are? If the former, what makes us believe they will be able to defeat al-Qaeda-related groups after the revolution? And if the latter, what makes us think they will want to?

Israel, not for the first time, will be left to cope with a situation born of the inability of its neighbors to fashion a tolerant society and the failure of the West to understand and protect its interests and its friends.

This article by Shoshana Bryen was originally published by American Thinker.

2 Comments

  • jerry hersch

    Which would you prefer Assad to remain in power and increasingly an Iranian pawn…or Assad to scure the coast from which he would be impossible to dislodge and the anti-Assad groups to be in control of the remainder of Syria.
    Since neither Israel nor Turkey for that matter wish to participate in the Syrian activity..there must be a time when things are weighed and decisions made.
    I feel that without active outside intervention Lebanon in lost in either scenario. I also feel thatthe entire coast in Assad-Iranian hands poses a mortal danger.

  • Raymond in DC

    I warned during the Libya conflict that the US had to secure or destroy Qadaffi’s weapons stores to prevent them falling into the wrong hands. (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who so warned.) Well, the US failed miserably. So the weapons flows into Mali, Gaza and Syria are the unintended consequences of that failure. The Obama administration may see Libya as a success, but the chaos it left behind extends far beyond Benghazi.

    I fear the US is only going to compound that error in Syria – not just with the empowerment of yet more Islamic groups but the loss of control over Syria’s chemical weapons.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.