Great news: CIA training for Syrian rebels designed to have no effect on war

posted at 8:01 am on October 3, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Doesn’t this sound like a typical government operation? After nearly launching missile strikes on Bashar al-Assad and continuing a two-year demand for regime change in Syria, the Obama administration ended up falling in line behind the Russians on a no-consequences WMD-disarmament plan that makes Assad a critical player for at least the next year or two.  Barack Obama insisted that the US will continue its support for the rebels, including arms and training, but the Washington Post reports that the program won’t even help the native, supposedly moderate rebels win their own civil war within the rebellion:

The CIA is expanding a clandestine effort to train opposition fighters in Syria amid concern that moderate, U.S.-backed militias are rapidly losing ground in the country’s civil war, U.S. officials said.

But the CIA program is so minuscule that it is expected to produce only a few hundred trained fighters each month even after it is enlarged, a level that officials said will do little to bolster rebel forces that are being eclipsed by radical Islamists in the fight against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The CIA’s mission, officials said, has been defined by the White House’s desire to seek a political settlement, a scenario that relies on an eventual stalemate among the warring factions rather than a clear victor. As a result, officials said, limits on the agency’s authorities enable it to provide enough support to help ensure that politically moderate, U.S.-supported militias don’t lose but not enough for them to win.

That doesn’t stack up well with what Assad is doing:

The agency has trained fewer than 1,000 rebel fighters this year, current and former U.S. officials said. By contrast, U.S. intelligence analysts estimate that more than 20,000 have been trained to fight for government-backed militias by Assad’s ally Iran and the Hezbollah militant network it sponsors.

In case readers missed this in the Green Room, it’s not going to put a dent into the efforts made by al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria to recruit and train foreign fighters, which now dominate the Syrian rebellion:

Foreign fighters from across the Arab world and beyond are playing an increasingly dominant role in the battle for control of Syria, which has emerged as an even more powerful magnet for jihadist volunteers than Iraq and Afghanistan were in the past decade.

The number of Syrians battling to overthrow the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad outstrips by a large margin the thousands of Arabs and other non-Syrian Muslims who have streamed into Syria over the past two years to join in the fight.

But the flow of jihadist volunteers has accelerated, and non-Syrians have begun taking the lead in a variety of roles as the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attempts to assert control over large areas of the rebel-held north.

Foreign fighters man checkpoints, serve as commanders on the battlefield and have become the de facto rulers of towns and cities in areas under rebel control, giving them a visible and much-feared presence across large swaths of territory, according to Syrians living in the north as well as analysts.

Saudis, Tunisians and Libyans are among the most frequently encountered nationalities, the residents and analysts say, but men from Chechnya, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates also are present. The Pakistani Taliban announced in August that it had established a presence in Syria. Among those killed in recent battles was a Moroccan commander who had spent years as a prisoner of the U.S. government at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was eulogized in one of the many videos prepared by the foreign volunteers to advertise their presence.

This looks less like a civil war now, and more like an al-Qaeda invasion. And we’re sending arms to the AQ side, at least at the moment.

That’s not to say that there isn’t some good news.  Another civil war may break out amongst the radical Islamist networks that have hijacked the rebellion, and that fight may start in Azaz, which recently was wrested from native Free Syrian Army control:

 Six of the most powerful rebel factions in Syria issued a joint statement on Thursday telling an Al-Qaeda front group to withdraw from the northern town of Azaz bordering Turkey.

In a separate statement, rebels in central Syria also called on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to leave Homs province.

The statements came amid fresh clashes between ISIL militants and the mainstream rebel Northern Storm brigade in Azaz.

Hours before the statement by the six rebel groups was made public, hundreds of ISIL fighters were advancing towards the border post with Turkey near Azaz.

Major rebel groups Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid and Jaysh al-Islam all signed the statement urging “our brothers in ISIL to withdraw their troops and vehicles to their main headquarters immediately”.

None of these factions align with the Syrian National Coalition, the supposedly-moderate front group favored by the US.  They are all part of the problem that now plagues native Syrians — foreign fighters (on both sides, with Hezbollah recruiting for the Shi’ite coalition supporting Assad) conducting their war on Syrian soil.  Syrians might catch a break if the Sunni jihadists start shooting at each other, but that will also serve to make Assad stronger in the long run.  In other words, even the good news is only relatively so.


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…they learned from Benghazi?

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2013 at 8:03 AM

This looks less like a civil war now, and more like an al-Qaeda invasion. And we’re sending arms to the AQ side, at least at the moment.

Yeah we can fund Al Qaeda but not our National Guard. Yippeee! or something. McCain’s the only one who thinks this is a good thing.

Happy Nomad on October 3, 2013 at 8:05 AM

The agency has trained fewer than 1,000 rebel fighters this year, current and former U.S. officials said. By contrast, U.S. intelligence analysts estimate that more than 20,000 have been trained to fight for government-backed militias by Assad’s ally Iran and the Hezbollah militant network it sponsors

….it’s ok!…JugEars is keeping in touch!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2013 at 8:08 AM

The CIA’s mission, officials said, has been defined by the White House’s desire to seek a political settlement, a scenario that relies on an eventual stalemate among the warring factions rather than a clear victor. As a result, officials said, limits on the agency’s authorities enable it to provide enough support to help ensure that politically moderate, U.S.-supported militias don’t lose but not enough for them to win.

This is the Obama legacy in a nutshell. Don’t let them win, but don’t let them lose either. His entire presidency can be summed up in this one sentence. He has no clear objectives on anything.

Johnnyreb on October 3, 2013 at 8:10 AM

“We are the Syrian People’s Front Crack Suicide Squad”

WryTrvllr on October 3, 2013 at 8:13 AM

Look at the foreign press or go to a site that covers the Syrian War where other countries comment. Obama has made the US a hated laughing stock. And the fricking sea levels still have not come down.

smoothsailing on October 3, 2013 at 8:15 AM

Progressives always have to try to remake the world because they know best…….pity our military gets to be their toy soldiers.

…..and that goes for the Progs in both parties.

PappyD61 on October 3, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Hey, at least they’re using Ford products to build technicals now. I guess Toyota Hiluxes are too expensive.

Steve Eggleston on October 3, 2013 at 8:20 AM

A few hundred fighters might not be enough to topple Assad, but they’re plenty for several behind-the-western-wire missions.

Steve Eggleston on October 3, 2013 at 8:21 AM

Obama’s grand plan was to have his Muslim buddies, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), come in and take over Syria….just like he helped them do in Egypt.
Unfortunately for Obama and the MB, the Egyptians snuffed out the MB and left Obama with his mouth open and an uttering, “Uh,uh,uh…what the hell just happened?”
Then Obama got rope-a-doped by Putin in Syria and since then Obama has no more interest in Syria….

albill on October 3, 2013 at 8:22 AM

The CIA’s mission, officials said, has been …an eventual stalemate

When all else fails, that’s America’s go to option. Vietnam, Korea typify it. Let’s keep the war going by trying, but not trying hard enough to actually accomplish anything. Other than throw people into the meatgrinder. It’s always the wrong policy and, in this case, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of terrorists.

Fenris on October 3, 2013 at 8:22 AM

In a life and death situation ( war ), if you are not planning to live, you are planning to die. There is NO in between.

Jabberwock on October 3, 2013 at 8:29 AM

This looks less like a civil war now, and more like an al-Qaeda invasion. And we’re sending arms to the AQ side, at least at the moment.

So are we training members of AQ? I will wager our guys have no freaking clue.

And isn’t the government shutdown? Wait, we have more guards at the WWII memorial then Benghazi and Zero shuts down Normandy, but we somehow can afford to train AlQaeda.

But Zero cancels a football game that’s already funded.

You all know Obama is a few fries short of a happy meal, right?

dogsoldier on October 3, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Fenris on October 3, 2013 at 8:22 AM

We actually won Vietnam and then walked away. Of course the government in the South was a corrupt pile.

dogsoldier on October 3, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Bad news: if they are using Ford Rngers (as pictured) their efforts are already doomed. I owned one of those POS until the son totaled it t-boning a Yugo (Yugo had no airbags, lucky idiot owner walked away)

socalcon on October 3, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Heh, you figure that Ford is ‘product placement’?

socalcon on October 3, 2013 at 8:39 AM

Fenris on October 3, 2013 at 8:22 AM

We actually won Vietnam and then walked away. Of course the government in the South was a corrupt pile.

dogsoldier on October 3, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Sure, after Nixon decided he had to get out due to public pressure, and accomplished that by bombing the crap out of them. LBJ could’ve bombed the crap out of them too if he had wanted.

Fenris on October 3, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Bad news: if they are using Ford Rngers (as pictured) their efforts are already doomed. I owned one of those POS until the son totaled it t-boning a Yugo (Yugo had no airbags, lucky idiot owner walked away)

socalcon on October 3, 2013 at 8:37 AM

That’s the international-spec Ford Ranger. Judging by the pic, that is an early-2000′s version, which is a rebadged Mazda B-series pickup designed by Mazda and built mostly in Thailand.

It bears no relation to the Ranger/B-series designed and built by Ford in Michigan.

Steve Eggleston on October 3, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Sure, after Nixon decided he had to get out due to public pressure, and accomplished that by bombing the crap out of them. LBJ could’ve bombed the crap out of them too if he had wanted.

Fenris on October 3, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Kudos to LBJ for letting so many Americans die!!!

WryTrvllr on October 3, 2013 at 8:51 AM

That’s the international-spec Ford Ranger. Judging by the pic, that is an early-2000′s version, which is a rebadged Mazda B-series pickup designed by Mazda and built mostly in Thailand.

It bears no relation to the Ranger/B-series designed and built by Ford in Michigan.

Steve Eggleston on October 3, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Actually, that’s a mid ’90s US-spec Ranger, which were built in the Twin Cities plant (St. Paul, MN) and the Edison, New Jersey plant, not in MI.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Ranger_(North_America)#1993.E2.80.931997

Ward Cleaver on October 3, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Obama Admin Produced Fake News of Syrian Dictator Being Toppled

Akzed on October 3, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Hey! Let’s send ‘the community organizer’ to Syria. I’m sure he’ll do a bang-up job.

GarandFan on October 3, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Actually, that’s a mid ’90s US-spec Ranger, which were built in the Twin Cities plant (St. Paul, MN) and the Edison, New Jersey plant, not in MI.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Ranger_(North_America)#1993.E2.80.931997

Ward Cleaver on October 3, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Also, some US-spec models were built in General Pacheco, Argentina. Some of those could have made their way to the ME, as used cars (possible for US ones, too).

Ward Cleaver on October 3, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Sure, after Nixon decided he had to get out due to public pressure, and accomplished that by bombing the crap out of them. LBJ could’ve bombed the crap out of them too if he had wanted. Fenris on October 3, 2013 at 8:41 AM

But… he didn’t. He preferred calling platoon leaders in combat to ask them how it’s hangin’.

Nixon ended the war by demonstrating to the North its untenable position -aka Linebacker II- then the Dems defunded South Vietnam so their commie allies could roll in unopposed.

Akzed on October 3, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Akzed on October 3, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Can’t disagree with that.

Fenris on October 3, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Actually, that’s a mid ’90s US-spec Ranger, which were built in the Twin Cities plant (St. Paul, MN) and the Edison, New Jersey plant, not in MI.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Ranger_(North_America)#1993.E2.80.931997

Ward Cleaver on October 3, 2013 at 10:34 AM

I wonder what threw me off. The extended cab looks bigger than what was on the American model.

Steve Eggleston on October 3, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Hey yeah, SNL can make a good skit out of this too. They hate the CIA right? Oh wait it would hurt the goof squad in the WH.

jake49 on October 3, 2013 at 11:25 AM

“Dr.” O’Bagy thinks this is a good thing. Ask Hillary, McCain and Kerry, they will vouch for her.

jake49 on October 3, 2013 at 11:28 AM

“Designed to have no effect” good motto for the Obama Regime.

Better “Designed to have no good effect”

jukin3 on October 3, 2013 at 11:44 AM

It’s fitting that this story comes up today, the 20th anniversary of a well-known US involvement in another civil war.

On October 3-4, 1993, American forces executed a raid in Mogadishu, Somalia that escalated into what’s known today as the Battle of Mogadishu, or in popular culture as “Black Hawk Down”.

18 Americans lost their lives, including two – Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart, both snipers with the Delta Force – whose self-sacrifice and courage above and beyond the normal call of duty saw them awarded the first Medals of Honor since the Vietnam War.

Twenty years later, looking at Syria, we’re getting set to repeat the same mistakes, I fear.

allanbourdius on October 3, 2013 at 4:01 PM