Is Russia Eliminating America’s Material Support for Terrorism Problem

In this post, Moon of Alabama linked to this Jerusalem Post article, which says more plainly what a number of people admit obliquely: Qatar and Saudi Arabia are funding the Nusra Front.

The Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al- Qaida, which controls 10-15 percent of non-contiguous parcels of Syrian real estate, is of special interest to the IDF. Together with some local militias Nusra is in charge of most of the 100-kilometer border with Israel on the Syria side of the Golan Heights. In recent years, Nusra slightly toned down its militant ideology due to the influence of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which provide it with financial support.

OK then.

Not only are our Gulf allies funding al Qaeda, but they are sufficiently close to them so as to get them to pretend to moderate their extremism. Which is another way of saying they’re sufficiently close to get them to cooperate to help the Gulf nations snooker their allies.

Of course, the Israelis have an incentive to point to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, so as to avoid admitting they, too, are backing Nusra.

Still, this plain admission raises the same questions I raised back in August when the people inserting DOD-trained rebels into Syria were genuinely surprised that their expectation that Nusra would welcome those rebels, rather than kidnap them, was wrong.

I think it’s quite likely that the US got affirmative HUMINT from one of our partners in the region that Nusra Front would not attack. Both the Saudis and Israelis are real possibilities to have provided this intelligence, given that we rely on the Saudis for a lot of our intelligence on Sunni terrorist groups and the Israelis have been cozying up to the group. And I’m frankly agnostic whether that intelligence would have been offered cynically — again, as a ploy to suck the US further into Syria — or in good faith.

Likewise, I wonder whether we got disinformation from our allies — the material supporter of terrorists — about whether or not Nusra had confiscated a chunk of the weapons and pick-ups from the next batch of rebels we sent into Syria.

All that’s stuff that was readily available. But here’s a detail I did not know. CIA reportedly ended its support for its Syrian rebels earlier this year.

Be that as it may, and regardless of the Russian strategy, it also needs to be emphasized that even though the targeted rebels were not ISIS, they were not secularist “moderates” either. According to most news outlets however, the rebel positions hit by the Russians were part of the “Free Syrian Army”, the armed branch of the allegedly secular opposition. Interestingly, this statement is based on one single testimony made to Reuters by the leader of a group which has been provided with US weapons as part of a covert CIA programme that was ended earlier this year.

If the CIA had stopped outfitting rebels partnering with Qatari and Saudi backed al Qaeda groups, I can see how they’d want to hijack DOD backed rebels to get US arms (and, effectively, bodies).

Which brings me back to this comment John Brennan made at the end of May, asked explicitly in the context of ISIS.

Dealing with some of these problems in the Middle East, whether you’re talking about Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, others, these are some of the most complex and complicated issues that I’ve seen in my 35 years, working on national security issues. So there are no easy solutions.

I think the president has tried to make sure that we’re able to push the envelope when we can to protect this country. But we have to recognize that sometimes our engagement and direct involvement will stimulate and spur additional threats to our national security interests.

“Sometimes our engagement and direct involvement will stimulate and spur additional threats,” said the CIA director overseeing a covert operation of supporting fighters that ended up having ties to al Qaeda that either had been or would shortly be discontinued.

We’re making a lot of noise about Russia taking out those men the CIA had formerly trained. Is it just noise?

Apparently some Syrians on the ground are already questioning whether the US has sold them out.

The official added that the airstrikes were bolstering the popularity of Jabhat al-Nusra, with its combined message of American duplicity against Muslims and the prospect of fighting an old foe – many of al-Qaida’s veterans once fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

While there are reasons to question the source (really! how many al Qaeda members who fought Russia 20 years ago are left, much less on the ground in Syria?), it’s a good question…

Update: The Daily Beast believes the CIA program is still active.

The rebels attacked by Russian forces on Wednesday and Thursday were in western Syria, alongside al Qaeda affiliates and far from any ISIS positions. That suggests the rebels were not there to fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State, as the Obama administration called the top priority. Instead, they were battling the Assad regime as part of a still-active CIA program for rebels which has run in tandem with the disastrous and now-defunct train and equip Pentagon program.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

34 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    “Is Russia Eliminating America’s Material Support for Terrorism Problem?” Methinks your question is based on a false assumption. See, we never had a problem with ‘material support for terrorism’. We just went ahead and did it.

  2. bolasete says:

    ussr pulled out of afghanistan in ’89; their experience would be 26-36 years ago. could be some middle-aged survivors. on the other hand, see Brzezinski’s counterpunch article some months back (don’t have link handy, sorry) “how jimmy carter and i created the mujaheddin” which was a radical islamic jihadi outfit, as befits their sourcing from saudi headchoppers.
    cf. petraeus suggesting alliance with al qaeda. a dialectical materialist might say the contradictions are being heightened and it’s becoming harder to cover the facts with spin. i’m a realist, not an idealist, yet occasionally i have a daydream where usa pulls all military personnel and equipment back to home turf and world peace breaks out!

  3. lew says:

    Erudite, intelligent, insightful, very knowledgeable so well-grounded in everything associated with our military-political problems, and having the perverse effect of making people think those problems are controllable.

    Show me a country with an activist foreign policy that has ‘won’ in some dimension important to the average citizen of that country. You might manage that, but will have to search.

    If I add ‘won, net, over 2 dimensions’, you won’t find one, I think. Activist foreign policies are a guaranteed loss, I think guaranteed by complexity of external reality relative to human brains’, minds’ and social organizations’ capabilities.

    But hey, this is the same kind of thinking, you can’t trust it either. But you know, if we line up our evidence, the line of losses is very much longer than the line of wins. That should mean something, considered in the same picture as all the erudite, etc. analysis that produced those lines.

    I find it just impossible to believe that the finest minds of our civilizations have produced such a botched mess, but we are just replaying the 100 years war and other such upsets of political power caused by technology.

    You guys doing these analyses are arrogant in thinking that minds can wrap up enough reality to control open, evolving, complex systems. Those systems are known to be not-controllable in principle, mathematically, signal-noise, and every other analysis you want to do.

    I reject the entire world-view that the social and political worlds are to be controlled by military force, negative sum games. It cannot possibly work. It has not worked to the long-term advantage of any country that has tried it in modern history. Not even Rome, recall that the barbarians they trained to guard the frontiers took them over?

    https://thinkpatriot.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/previous-episodes-of-zealotry/

    https://thinkpatriot.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/warning-ideas-are-dangerous/

    Again, this is the same kind of analysis that produces the disastrous results so routine in history, so don’t trust it. Either.

    • JohnT says:

      I find it just impossible to believe that the finest minds of our civilizations have produced such a botched mess, but we are just replaying the 100 years war and other such upsets of political power caused by technology.

      Part of it is, it’s not a mess, it’s exactly what they want
      .
      http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine
      .
      Then the other is, there’s an arrogance in a lot of extremely intelligent people who think they’re “the one” who knows all the answers

      • lew says:

        I was very plain : consider the evidence, and don’t believe me either.

        But my analysis makes as much sense as all the others here, and the won-loss ratio all of those other fine minds around the world have produced is really lousy.

        So uniformly terrible, it is the elephant in the living room that nobody can acknowledge, so of course attack the messenger, never acknowledge the message.

          • lew says:

            Sorry to have mis-interpreted.

            But the analyses continue as tho meaningful, so frustrating to watch the Status Quo grind obliviously along toward the cliff. To be so right and be ignored 8).

            It seems to me past time to do a serious QA root-cause analysis of our technology of government and the toolchain used in making decisions. The very high failure rate of governments doing this through history should cause us to doubt our current technology, the basic understandings.

            This civilization is grinding on toward war. I do not see how that can be interpreted as anything but massive failure.

            • Tom in AZ says:

              Lew at 18

              If that sort of analysis hasn’t been specifically banned, then like the law prohibiting correlating domestic gun deaths, it will be along soon enough. We can only investigate the ‘Look over Here!’ misdirections in our country.

  4. bevin says:

    “CIA reportedly ended its support for its Syrian rebels earlier this year.”

    The connections between the Gulf governments and the CIA are so close that it is likely that the CIA simply requests its friends in Riyadh and Qatar to do what it wants. After all, in several critical areas- satellite intelligence, arms supplies and, as Russia’s recent strikes have demonstrated, refraining from attacking all but the most peripheral ISIS targets (and probably attacking long after warnings have been passed on)- the Gulf forces and the militias they sponsor depend upon US co-operation.

    To put it another way: the CIA don’t need to give Al Nusra and other militias anything more than the critical support of ensuring continued media and government non-recognition of the direct role the Gulf allies, Turkey and Jordan, play in fueling the wars in Syria and Iraq.

    As to your final question I imagine that, twenty years on, the veterans of the campaign in Afghanistan are, though diminished in numbers, very influential in the higher echelons of the political, military and religious leadership of these countries. At the command level there are said to be many hardened veterans of the various campaigns against Russia, communism and nationalism conducted since the ‘success’ of Afghanistan. It is even said that Chechen and Turkic contingents are fighting along side the neo-nazi militias that the US finances in Ukraine.

  5. lefty665 says:

    “really! how many al Qaeda members who fought Russia 20 years ago are left, much less on the ground in Syria?” If they were on our side we’d be calling them “Sir”. They’d be running things or have stars, be passing classified information to their mistresses or fulminating in the Senate. Believe you have it right bevin.

  6. Don Bacon says:

    There aren’t more than a handful of Pentagon-trained mercs, there are many such CIA ones. Russia is attacking them over US objections, especially McCain’s because there were about to directly threaten the Syria government.
    .
    McCain personally went to Syria and lined up Islamic radical support — google mccain rebels syria – images for photos. McCain was quoted in WaPo recently as saying he’s communicating with them (Russia says thank you for that, now we know exactly where they are).
    .
    One of Russia’s primary aims is to destroy the Chechen radicals around Idlib, where they have been successful recently against Syria. Russia has been conducting aerial attacks in the area, to be followed no doubt by a ground offensive up the Rte 4 corridor from the Russian base in Latakia up to Idlib and environs.
    .
    Russia has no qualms about taking out US-supported terrorists, and really, how can the US make a sensible criticism of it? That Russia is merely propping up Assad? (Saudi Arabia is livid over it — that’s one good indicator.)
    .
    I imagine there are many national leaders in the world that wouldn’t mind being propped up if the need arose, so that argument won’t resonate. And these are properly classified terrorists being attacked. Russia’s FM Lavrov on Syria targets: ‘If it looks like a terrorist, walks like a terrorist if it fights like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist.”

  7. bloopie2 says:

    UN human rights chief calls bombing of Doctors Without Borders’ hospital in Afghanistan “inexcusable”. Does this give MSF the right to come into the US and kill US military personnel? After all, they are an imminent threat.

  8. wayoutwest says:

    It’s interesting how memes, such as the House of Saud the Qatari government or the US are funding al Qaeda, begin in the internet age and propagate through mimicry constant repetition and often contradictory media reports without any real hard evidence ever being produced. I believed much of this ‘common knowledge’ until I looked for actual proof and found rumor, misinterpretations and speculation that many people seem to now accept and defend as unquestioned fact and even continue to add more rumor and oblique personal opinions to the mix.

    There is evidence that Saudi and Qatari individuals and groups do fund al-Nusra/al Qaeda and the House of Saud admits to funding some of the other rebel groups in Syria, that is fact and they will continue to fund them even while they ally with al-Nusra to overthrow Assad but al-Nusra/al Qaeda and the Islamic State are mortal enemies of the House of Saud and all Gulf Monarchies, I doubt that will ever change.

    The propaganda push from someone in Qatar and some US sources to try to coopt al-Nusra with promises of funding if they disowned al-Qaeda was repeatedly publicly denounced by the al-Nusra leadership. Another example of a created meme now being repeated this time by those seeking to buy control over one of the most successful uncontrollable rebel groups, they failed but the meme will continue to be useful.

    We are also seeing that most of the rebel groups that many people assumed are controlled by the external funding from the West and the Gulf Monarchies have their own agendas and are allying with al-Nusra. If the report of the CIA stopping funding of rebel groups allied with al-Nusra is accurate it shows just how little control we had over the decision making in these groups.

    Russian diplomacy failed to attract any support from the rebel forces in Syria so they are now trying to bludgeon the rebels and their civilian supporters into submission to Assad and Iran but they don’t seem to have learned anything from their own history just as the US displays historical amnesia.

    Just as the Islamic State has modified their tactics to continue their advance under Coalition and SAA bombing in Syria and Iraq the other rebels in Syria will adapt and eventually advance under Russian air attacks as they did under constant SAA bombardment.

    Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was the training camp for thousands of young Muslim recruits who are now in leadership positions in al-Nusra and other rebel groups.

  9. Les says:

    That was all contradicted by the fact that key decisionmakers like McCain and Paetreus were openly grooming the public for acceptance of supporting Al Qaeda. They don’t seem too upset we “lost” our weapons to Jabhat Nusra and Al-Nusra Front.

  10. Don Bacon says:

    “We will . . . turn them [terrorists] one against another”–GW Bush, Sep 20, 2001
    .
    And it pays off. Lockheed-Martin has announced a ten percent dividend increase, again. “Defense giant Lockheed Martin recently passed through a solid 10% dividend increase. The company has significantly increased its dividend over the past five years. Even though defense budgets are coming down, Lockheed Martin can still increase dividends, thanks to its strong free cash flow generation.” — seeking alpha
    .
    Rep Mac Thornberry, House appropriations chief, has received $162,500 from 10 F-35 contractors since 2011–Jan 22, 2014
    $75,900 from Lockheed, and $29,000 from Northrop Grumman. –politico

  11. Don Bacon says:

    We can say that Carter/Brzezinski started it all, the support of Islamic radicals, in the nineties. B’ski explained it in a 1998 interview:
    Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
    B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
    .
    Then came other events including 9/11, and the beat goes on.
    .
    One US victim was Chris Stevens at Benghazi, who had enlisted Islamic radicals (on a previous tour of duty in Libya) to overthrow Gaddafi, and apparently these same people took Stevens’ life when he was playing CIA agent shipping arms to Turkey for use in Syria, on Sep 11, 2012. — The Benghazi probe, the longest in history, hasn’t revealed that, of course.
    .
    PS: Carter also kicked off the Carter doctrine which has put the US military in the Middle East for its losing adventures. Thanks, Jimmy.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes, I’ve been eagerly awaiting an interview with Zbig so someone can ask abt Russia’s involvement here. Would he pretend the irony doesn’t exist?

  12. bevin says:

    Breszinzki might have had an original idea once. But the use of Bin Laden et al was not one of them.
    The employment of ‘mad mullahs’ to root out nationalists and socialists was old before the Second World war. And since then it has been routine. Nowhere more than in Yemen either where British military assistance-including air transport and supply drops- was well established in the sixties.
    And then there was the first really big operation: the coup in Indonesia, accompanied by massacres of up to a million supporters of the Sukarno regime and communists and followed by years of repression and island concentration camps full of political prisoners. It is no coincidence that the current President was a boy living through the aftermath of that dreadful period, and that his step father was a hanger on in Suharto Court circles and that his Mom was studying village communities.
    It is often forgotten that the shock troops in Suharto’s seizure of power were fanatical muslims and that the US and British, who furnished them with targets for assassination, employed them just as now they do Al Nusra, ISIS and a whole slew of similar militias throughout Asia and much of Africa.
    Is it a well thought out scheme?
    No, but the DC culture is very much like the corporate culture cross fertilising it: all that matters is the short term, the quarterly results, the next election. As to blowback in the “long run” well Keynes spoke for an entire culture when he said that “in the long run, we’re all dead.”

  13. orionATL says:

    let’s see, the saudis payoff al-q members if they’re in syria.

    and kill off al-q members if they’re in yemen.

    and back the former bin-laden and provide him his hijackering ttoops.

    the americans payoff al-q in syria.

    and kill off al-q in afghanistan, iraq, and north and east africa.

    and kill off the former bin-laden and his network whereever they can be hunted down.

    it’s not a neat world out there.

  14. wayoutwest says:

    The Russians seem to have learned from the US intelligence scandal over the claimed ‘progress’ against the IS. They are preannouncing their ‘progress’ against the ‘terrorists’ claiming their strikes are already weakening terror groups and sending them panicking, heading for Europe, the last was a particularly clever addition to their hubris. This news comes directly from the Russian military so no noisome analysts can interfere with the good news.

    In a rare united declaration today the representatives of the Syrian rebel groups trashed the latest Western and Russian peace proposal at the UN stating that without a firm commitment to the removal of Assad from power even the proposed working groups are a waste of time. The Europeans and the US may accept the slippery Russian proposals but the people fighting this war are not inclined to swallow UN dictates that undermine their goals.

  15. orionATL says:

    the issue in all this political plowing under and killing in the arab world that one might hope would be sobering up our war-besotted leaders is an issue that has only begun to be a serious problem for europe and stable asia – refugees.

    there are said to be 4 mil refugees from the syrian conflict. so as they are in syria, they’re nobody else’s problem. but once they begain to migrate en masse, then the entire happy prospects of a warring conflict(s) can change.

    i would think, beginning, say, right now, that any wise leader of a developed coutry contemplating war should insist it be strictly defensive. 1 mill, 4 mill, 7 mill, 10 mill regugees can change even the best laid plans of keyboard frddie kagan.

    where the needed wise leader is geographically isolated from the consequences of the conflict he initiates, e.g.,in the u.s., that nation’s allies had better speak up quick and loudly.

    can we just say aloud, war destroys the means of production, including people, capital, and livestock. doing so may take a struggling-upward to very poor society decades to recover from.

    refugees may never go home. refugees can drasticly change the culture of a society. lebanon, i believe, has a quarter of its current human population as refugees. cuban regugees greatly effected american foreign policy for the worst. israeli politics has been shifted warward and apartheidward by that nation’s solicited refugee immigration. do the small nations montenegro, albania, bulgaria, hungary, the former yogos really want to be the vanguard of nations swamped by arab-conflicts refugees, even for a few years?

    and this is only regarding war. climate change scenarios imply droughts. fungal diseases can show up in basic food crops under such adverse conditions.

    masses of humans on the move drastically change matters, cf., the american members of the mississippian tribes.

    poor thomas, ye died before yer time, lad.

  16. wayoutwest says:

    The Daily Beast update above seems to be attempting to draw conclusions from a nonexistent assumption. None of the major rebel groups have agreed to fight the Islamic State for the US no matter what US top priorities may be, their priorities are and always have been the defeat of Assad although they do fight the IS when they are attacked.

    Since many of the rebel groups have combined their efforts with al-Nusra the dependence on US arms supplies may not be that critical because of other suppliers. The Saudis already announced they would be dramatically increasing arms shipments to the groups they support.

  17. Don Bacon says:

    McCain and the others who support Islamic radicals in Syria don’t consider them terrorists, but as warriors in the great fight against “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” Iran, with its principal supporter to Hezbollah being Syria..
    .
    Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “Iran has been the country that has been in many ways a kind of central banker for terrorism in important regions like Lebanon through Hezbollah in the Middle East, in the Palestinian Territories.”
    .
    Of the 29 (twenty-nine) US national emergencies proclaimed by the president, two are against Iran and one against Syria. “The Syrian regime’s actions and policies, including with respect to chemical and biological weapons, supporting terrorist organizations, and obstructing the Lebanese government’s ability to function effectively, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”renewed May 6, 2015 BO.
    this also explains why the uS has shunned Iraq, as it has become an Iran ally thanks to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

  18. fast freddy says:

    “Material Support For Terrorism” is simply a useful tool to cow common citizens into submission via CIA and FBI and police agents provocateurs. They can trump up a false case against any “troublemakers” at any time with “material support for terrorism”.

    If you send your kid to school with new scissors, that’s material support for terrorism.

  19. Don Bacon says:

    Obama: “Mr. Putin’s action have been successful only insofar as it’s boosted his poll ratings inside Russia, which may be why the Beltway is so impressed because that tends to be the measure of the success.”

    Obama would never make THAT mistake, taking any popular action that has given Putin an approval rating of 89 percent this summer (WaPo). No, Obama is perfectly happy with his 45.4/49.5 Approve/Disapprove ratings according to the RCP Average.

  20. Joanne Leon says:

    There is something really odd about the CIA-backed rebels story. It has always been odd but it got even more odd in the past (I don’t remember exactly) 3-6 months when the media started reporting in in strange ways. It reminds me of the way NSA programs were talked about before anybody could refer to them by name. Which means there are probably layers of US-backed rebels with different sources of funding, secrecy, etc.
    .
    .
    It might explain why McCain was apoplectic for years about giving more support to “rebels” when we were already supporting, by some reports, 10K of them. But in that Senate hearing where he got some serious pushback from a Dem who exposed the badly kept secret that we *were* already providing substantial support to some “rebels” in some covert program. But maybe that wasn’t his pet rebel group because there were several different programs (although it also may have been about some specific kinds of weapons or whatever). But unless that entire thing was an act, there was some other set of people he wanted to have some other set of things.
    .
    .
    Given that there has been some level of covert activity aimed at overthrowing the Syrian govt since at least mid 2000s and that more and more players (countries and who even knows who else, maybe oligarchs, Gladio, etc) got in the game since then, and given that it seems to be a giant mercenary mish mash where people change sides, defect for more money and better conditions, hell maybe even get traded like a pro sports league, the complexity of it seems just absurd. Wikileaks docs say we had special forces there way back when. No doubt that increased as covert military activity became the tool of choice in this admin.
    .
    .
    We probably have not only multiple levels of US-backed rebels but we probably have some Iran-Contra type programs going on too. Probably more than one with all the gun running rat line stories out there. And it’s funny how we know the opium trade is soaring in Afghanistan but nobody ever talks about any US involvement or any facet of these covert wars that involve trafficking. Never see any investigative reporting where that is an aspect of anything, or at least I never see any. But you can’t convince me that it’s not intertwined in this Syria quagmire somewhere. It’s almost funny that everybody knows ISIS smuggles oil out of the country but no journalist with access in the region ever digs into where that oil goes after it leaves or how it gets paid for or what system is used to facilitate those trades, etc. It’s just a convenient nugget of info for making ISIS scarier because that’s their supposed source of funding, but after that nobody tracks down who bought it, how they got it, etc.
    .
    .
    Anyway, there are probably some levels of rebels that nobody could ever admit to funded by people and things nobody could ever admit to, other rebels they tell the congressfolk secret stories about to make them feel big & stoked & insidery, other rebels they tell the public a little about so it looks like Obama only has his little toe in Syria, other rebels who are special forces dressed up like rebels, others who are retired spec forces mercs dressed up like rebels, and shit I’ve never even heard of. And I’m only referring to the rebels that we are running, not the ones other countries or entities are running.

    • wayoutwest says:

      You ask some good questions, Joanne but then jump to some unsupportable conclusions. The so called covert program to train and arm some Syrian rebels was and is only covert to uninformed Amerikans, it was and is common knowledge to people in the ME. Jordanians who travel to the Iraq border drive past the base where the training is ongoing and know to never approach the base. I’m sure the local Turks know where the training of the failed Division 30 force takes place and what it is all about.

      The only mercenaries ( soldiers who fight for money not a cause) that I could identify are the Afghan Shia fighters hired by Iran and even they may not fit that description. The Sunni Syrians trained by the US were from existing Syrian rebel groups who were sent by their commanders to receive advanced training supplied by the US in Jordan, I don’t think that any non-Syrian volunteers were allowed into these programs. The Syria Civil War wiki lists all of the groups involved and who supports and supplies them, it’s no secret.

      There is no evidence of US special Forces operating in Syria beyond the report of the assistance to the Kurds, the failed mission to free hostages and the night raid on the Islamic State leader, US Special Forces posing as rebels is beyond ludicrous, the rebels do have internal security and they are not stupid.

      Calling the oil trade in Syria smuggling is a bit misleading because it is impossible to smuggle tanker trucks full of oil. The Islamic State sells their oil to oil brokers and transport companies who have been in this business long before the war. These oil brokers have no trouble transporting and selling this oil because it is offered at a price few can refuse and buyers in Turkey or even Syria and Iraqi Kurds seem to be more interested in profit and are willing to ignore where the oil came from. The need for the oil in Assad controlled areas is so great that it is allowed to be sold there. The IS did cut off supplies to areas recently captured by the Army of Conquest in northwestern Syria so they had to get shipments from Turkey but it is probably still IS supplied oil.

      ‘Obama only has his little toe in Syria’ is an excellent description of how little real control the US has over any of the groups it supports in Syria, they have their own agendas.

    • orionATL says:

      yes, many strange reports of what’s going on in syria for many years.

      one of the strangest by my lights was the relatively recent report that we had trained 50 fighters and sent them into syria to do battle with …. whoever.

      the big story around that was that our fighters had been betrayed by the our allies the turks.

      i thought the big story, or at least very big puzzle, was – 50 fighters? only 50? who the hell are you kidding? what are these guys, superman clones? why not 500 or 5000?

      i decided it must have been a dod/cia p.r. ploy.

  21. Les says:

    State Department talking points on Syria

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/02/a-useful-prep-sheet-on-syria-for-media-propagandists/

    If you had followed the Libyan revolution, you would know that British special forces were embedded with the rebels along with the mercenaries and local militias. After the fall of the Libyan government, every UK paper ran a story boasting of their involvement.

    Recent stories in the UK have claimed British special forces are running around Syria dressed up as ISIS militants in the familiar black uniforms, ostensibly as death squads to hunt down ISIS, even after the State Department put out a public message to the media that ISIS no longer wears those uniforms.

    I would add to the foreign special forces and CIA-hired mercenaries that there’s probably a good number of mentally handicapped, criminally insance, Muslim fanatics, and immature young adults who were recruited using the Caliphate propaganda campaign to serve in cannon fodder roles, such as carrying out suicide bomb attacks.

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