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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Expansion of U.S. Support of Syrian Rebels

Just a couple articles on this point. First, from the New York Times:
With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.
The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

As it evolved, the airlift correlated with shifts in the war within Syria, as rebels drove Syria’s army from territory by the middle of last year. And even as the Obama administration has publicly refused to give more than “nonlethal” aid to the rebels, the involvement of the C.I.A. in the arms shipments — albeit mostly in a consultative role, American officials say — has shown that the United States is more willing to help its Arab allies support the lethal side of the civil war.

From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. The C.I.A. declined to comment on the shipments or its role in them.
 What other help can we give them? According to NBC, the rebels would like us to use our Patriot Missile batteries in Turkey to shoot down Syrian warplanes.
A Syrian opposition leader said Tuesday that he had asked the United States to defend rebel-held areas with Patriot missiles.

NATO already has Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries in NATO-member Turkey to help defend the country from potential airstrikes by President Bashar Assad's regime.

Syrian opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib — who appeared Tuesday as the representative of Syria at an Arab League summit meeting following the Assad regime's suspension — said that he had asked Secretary of State John Kerry "to extend the umbrella of the Patriot missiles to cover the Syrian north and he promised to study the subject," Reuters reported.
This assistance will not end well. No matter how carefully the CIA vets the groups receiving the weapons, there is nothing that can be done to control the subsequent movement of arms to the Al Qaeda groups. We are merely arming and empowering the enemies of the United States and Israel.

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