Our Syrian Rebels Are Issuing Threats Via WaPo

This is a striking article in the WaPo. It deals extensively with setbacks rebels in Syria have already suffered at the hand of Russia’s campaign. But it bears this headline, as if Trump’s administration, not Russian intervention (and Obama’s mixed commitment), is the key change.

Fearing abandonment by Trump, CIA-backed rebels in Syria mull alternatives

As I said, the story provides plenty of evidence the real change here stems from Russian involvement, not Trump’s election. But Trump’s election provides a way for a bunch of people to issue threats about what rebels might do in response to their fading fortunes.

The story quotes some anonymous US officials which likely includes Adam Schiff, who is also quoted by name, as well as an anonymous “U.S.-vetted rebel commander” who apparently speaks for the thousands the article claims to represent, and Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Jassim al-Thani, suggesting that if rebels aren’t helped more America’s alliance with the Gulf States may be in trouble. It also lays out what Trump’s incoming team, including Mike Flynn and James Mattis, might feel about how a Syrian win would help Iran.

I’m most interested in this part of the article, in which a single US official lays out a certain narrative about the US backed rebels — basically pretending that the covert program has worked.

The possibility of cutting loose opposition groups it has vetted, trained and armed would be a jolt to a CIA already unsettled by the low opinion of U.S. intelligence capabilities that Trump had expressed during his presidential campaign.

From a slow and disorganized start, the opposition “accomplished many of the goals the U.S. hoped for,” including their development into a credible fighting force that showed signs of pressuring Assad into negotiations, had Russia not begun bombing and Iran stepped up its presence on the ground, said one of several U.S. officials who discussed the situation on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The United States estimates that there are 50,000 or more fighters it calls “moderate opposition,” concentrated in the northwest province of Idlib, in Aleppo and in smaller pockets throughout western and southern Syria, and that they are not likely to give up.

“They’ve been fighting for years, and they’ve managed to survive,” the U.S. official said. “Their opposition to Assad is not going to fade away.”

Not only does this passage far overstate the success of US efforts, but it — like Qatar’s foreign minister — threatens that these armed men won’t go away if the US backs Assad.

No matter what you think of US efforts in Syria, this kind of narrative from the people who’ve backed an unsuccessful covert program is fairly disturbing, as if even the US officials in the story are siding with the more explicit threats from Qatar against the US.

Yes, if Trump really remains committed to his promised partnership with Russia (assuming he and the nutjobs he has hired can manage that relationship, which I doubt), the rebels will side with Qatar (and the Saudis and who knows what Erdogan will do?) against Assad — which has basically been what they’ve been doing all this time anyway. Yes, if that happens, the US will lose its leverage over Qatar, with potentially dangerous consequences.

But this sounds awfully close to Americans turning against American policy, no matter how untutored Trump is.

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.

10 replies
  1. bevin says:

    “From a slow and disorganized start, the opposition “accomplished many of the goals the U.S. hoped for,” including their development into a credible fighting force ” leading to the deaths of upwards of 300,000 Syrians.

    Those responsible for this matter, which includes massacres of entire villages of Christians and Shi’ites, poison gas attacks and thousands of suicide bombings, car bombs and other terrorist attacks are guilty of war crimes. They are knee deep in the blood of children butchered to play a sordid geo-political game.

    We have had almost had a century of these cowardly proxy wars conducted by wahhabi militias in muslim countries, as deliberate, coldly calculated, US policy.

    And if Trump does nothing else but puts an end to them he will have done more for humanity than most US Presidents.

     

     

    • greengiant says:

      Right, just another one of Trump’s campaign “promises” that will only be kept in an “alternative reality.”  The anyone but Clinton zone was throwing mud at having Qatar forwarding US ground to air missiles to the Taliban and having them been used against US servicemen. The forlorn hope was that Trump was a non interventionist except for eliminating ISIL.    The neo-cons are going to have less influence under Trump?    Bezos’s personal  blog slams the non mogul owned press and puts out this tripe. Is there a difference of opinion anywhere in the puppet masters?

  2. TomVet says:

    …said one of several U.S. officials who discussed the situation on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

    Then why the fuck are they being quoted and publicized? Ignore them! Don’t give them a platform to spread their godforsaken mouth garbage. Then publish and discuss real policy possibilities instead of the steady barrage of BS we get 24/7 from these idiots.

    If they are not authorized to speak of these things but are anyway, then why are they not being referred to an IG or a prosecutor?

    The same goes for the Clown in Chief; don’t hang on his every tweet, just ignore him. Act like he doesn’t exist on this earth. Point out what’s total nonsense or lies rather than just quoting him. Make him justify whatever nonsense he spews with some kind of sane reasoning. That will surely make his head explode, hopefully.

    (Hope you realize, EW that this is not directed at you, but the aforementioned idiots in the MSM. I also realize this is a hopeless cause, unfortunately.)

     

      • bell says:

        lol.. yeah… better not give assange, snowden, manning or the rest of them a voice either as one shudders that someone might wake up in all that, and we don’t want that happening, do we? lol..

  3. lefty665 says:

    50,000 “moderates”, what is the U S official smoking? The “moderates” are like unicorns, much more talked about than real.  Which American policy, the CIA’s, DoD’s, State’s? All of them murderous failures that have armed al Qaeda, ISIL et al while producing profoundly ineffective fighters or fighters who have joined the terrorists.

    Trump already seems to have inspired Obama to actually target ISIL to preserve shreds of his legacy. Who’d have thought that targeting terrorists could actually become US policy in Syria after years of supporting terrorists in hopes of overthrowing Assad?  It is not surprising that the people who have implemented our schizophrenic policies of arming and training “moderate” terrorists would be opposed to a policy that recently seems to actually be targeting terrorists much like the Syrians, Iranians and Russians have been doing.

     

  4. martin says:

    It also lays out what Trump’s incoming team, including Mike Flynn and James Mattis, might feel about how a Syrian win would help Iran.

     

    Speaking of certifiable nutjobs,   I give it a day before Flynn tweets another conspiracy theory that gets  half a million people killed instead of a lone gunman attacking a Pizza joint.

    https://rewire.news/article/2016/12/04/gunman-acts-conspiracy-perpetuated-trump-nsa-advisor-michael-flynn/

    And he’s Trump’s National Security Advisor.  right. Notwithstanding a dangerous halfwit, Flynn redefines the word laughingstock.

     

  5. lefty665 says:

    Here’s what b expects, not exactly the US official’s rosy scenario:

    “The general plan is to squeeze all the Takfiris into one small area in east-Aleppo (probably the “old city”) and to then negotiate their departure to Idleb in north-west Syria. Idelb itself is already filled with infighting Jihadis of various stripes who were offered exit to it from several areas around Damascus, Homs and Hama. It will soon be a shooting alley for the Syrian and Russian air-forces. The Jihadis will flee to Turkey, which is a nightmare for Erdogan, and maybe onward from there into “western” European cities. There they will be pampered and rest until their masters call for another battle.”

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/12/syria-roundup-east-aleppo-siege-nears-its-end.html#more

    and another look:
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/12/4-december-2016-in-aleppo.html

  6. Procopius says:

    Yes, if that happens, the US will lose its leverage over Qatar, with potentially dangerous consequences.

    I do not handle sarcasm or irony well. Was this sentence intended to be taken seriously? The U.S. has leverage over Qatar? Who knew?

Comments are closed.