Obama’s call for $500 million to arm and train Syrian Jihadist fighters couldn’t have possibly come at a more inappropriate time as Al Qaeda in Iraq menaces both countries.
It wasn’t the Iraq War that made the Al Qaeda affiliate so dangerous. In 2008 it specialized in suicide bombings. It wasn’t marching on Baghdad with an army behind it.
The Arab Spring destabilized the region while money, weapons and recruits poured into Libya and Syria. Obama’s regime change war in Libya led not only to the takeover of entire Libyan cities by Al Qaeda, culminating in the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, but to an Al Qaeda affiliate seizing much of neighboring Mali. Libyan terror training camps also led to an attack on the Amenas gas plant in Algeria.
Three Americans were killed in that attack bringing the US death toll from Obama’s Libyan War up to seven.
But that was last year. This year it’s the Syrian Civil War that turned its local Al Qaeda affiliates into breakout Jihadi stars seizing entire cities and terrorizing the region.
Obama’s solution is to direct money intended for counterterrorism partnerships to terrorists in Syria.
This may be one of the worst ideas that he has ever come up with. Attempts to control the flow of weapons likely played a role in the Benghazi attacks. NATO forces enforcing an arms embargo on Libya had been told to ignore Qatari weapons shipments that were meant for “moderates”.
Instead they went to Al Qaeda.
Obama and Kerry, not to mention Graham and McCain, believe that weapons can be directed to “moderate” Syrian groups and that by arming the “good” terrorists, we’ll stop the “bad” terrorists.
But there are no “good” terrorists. Promises of delivering weapons only to “pre-vetted” groups are worth as much as Obama’s assurances that Al Qaeda was on the run and that ISIS is only a jayvee team.
Kerry met with Ahmad al-Jarba, the President of the Syrian National Coalition. Al-Jarba said that $500 million wouldn’t be enough and demanded more weapons. Meanwhile Al-Jarba was feuding with Ahmad Tohme, the Prime Minister of the SNC’s fictional government. Tohme had attempted to disband the Supreme Military Council over corruption charges while firing the head of the Free Syrian Army.
None of this really matters because the SNC is a puppet regime with many puppet masters and no puppets. The Syrian front men for the Saudis, Qataris, the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey and other factions are constantly firing each other. Their Free Syrian Army is a label stamped on a bunch of Islamist militias, many of whom openly support Al Qaeda.
Four out of five of the FSA’s front commanders had demanded to work with Al Qaeda last year. Parts of the FSA joined the Islamic Front and seized the FSA’s weapons warehouses taking anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons. The FSA fighters fled. Earlier ISIS had seized USAID items intended for the FSA.
After these embarrassments Obama was forced to temporarily suspend aid to the Free Syrian Army.
A senior Al Qaeda terrorist who answered to Ayman Al-Zawahiri was a leading figure in the Islamic Front through Ahrar al Sham, which operated alongside the FSA, until he was killed in an attack by ISIS. Ahrar al Sham had a powerful role in the Supreme Military Council through Deputy Chief of Staff Abdel-basset Tawil.
The FSA, to the extent that it exists, consists of bearded Salafist fighters and commanders in the field and “moderate” leaders in suits in Qatar and Turkey who usually never set foot in Syria. They obtain weapons and money from the West for Jihadists who are much less camera friendly.
Groups such as Liwa al Ummah choose to affiliate with the FSA even while they continue fighting alongside the Al Nusra Front. Experts label some Syrian Jihadist groups as moderate and others as extremist, but the “moderates” and “extremists” fly the black flag of Jihad and fight for an Islamic state.
Pre-vetting the groups means nothing because names like the Free Syrian Army or the Supreme Military Council are only fronts for outside interests. Even the names of the individual militias are often meaningless because new groups and new umbrella groups are constantly being created and dissolved. Fighters and commanders move from one group to another taking their weapons with them.
Keeping track of the various pseudonyms used by the commanders is already a full time job. It is often impossible to tell whether two Jihadist commanders with the same pseudonym are even the same person. Figuring out the relationship between various groups means depending on intelligence from those groups and various activists on the ground who all have their own alliances and agendas.
No meaningful vetting is possible under these circumstances and supplying weapons to “pre-vetted” groups is as good as supplying them to Al Qaeda. Supplying weapons to pre-vetted groups only means that it will take longer for those weapons to reach Al Qaeda through barter, alliance or capture.
And even if the weapons don’t end up with Al Qaeda, they will go to Salafist groups that share its goals. The difference is that those have not yet officially declared war on us. That same false sense of security led to the murder of four Americans in Benghazi.
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