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Joint Chiefs Worked To Undermine ‘Special Relationship’ with Al Qaeda in Syria

Next Cold War Roundup 12/21/15

M/W/F 10ish Eastern.

More evidence the West has a “Special Relationship” with Al Qaeda and that the Joint Chiefs undermined this CIA and Obama administration policy in Syria after warning of its dangers

_ Sy Hersh’s latest: “Military to Military”  says Obama administration and CIA policy ended up arming Al Qaeda and ISIS, that Obama was warned by the military and DIA and when they rejected those warnings, the Joint Chiefs, realizing these policies would lead to Syria being overrun by ISIS, undermined the administration and CIA policy by offering intelligence to three countries who then acted as a conduit and passed intelligence that disadvantaged the terrorist groups to the Syrian government.

_ The three countries cited in the military-to-military intelligence sharing are Russia, Germany and Israel at the highest levels (though Col Pat Lang, also a source for the Hersh article, believes it was mainly done through the Germans and Russians, and not much was shared with Israel).  Hersh describes the post-Cold War military cooperation between Joint Chiefs (JCS) in the United States and Russia on various critical issues such as the securing of weapons-grade uranium after the breakup of the USSR, common interests in tracking and stopping terrorism by Islamic extremist groups, and supply lines for NATO troops in Afghanistan.  In recent years, Hersh’s JCS adviser source described the recent arrangement related to ISIS where Putin’s government provided information drawn from their expertise on “ISIS leadership” and “operational techniques” while “‘we’ve got excellent trainers with years of experience in training foreign fighters – experience that Russia does not have.’”  The article also suggests that “targeting data, often by paying huge sums of cash, from sources within rebel militias” may have been offered, but this was not confirmed by the source.

_ Another way that the US military “resistance” worked to undermine the arming of Syrian “rebels” and ISIS was to interfere with the “rat line” of weapons from Turkey to Syria, getting Turks who were not loyal to Erdogan to ship old and inferior weapons.

_ The common goals between the American and the Russian and German military leadership, according to Hersh and sources, was to not allow the “chaos” to spread in Syria and the wider region as has happened in Iraq and Libya (and would happen, according to their assessments, if the Obama admin/CIA policies were carried out), to stop the spread of ISIS, and to counter the situation where the US was arming extremists via their “rat lines“.


_ Though this is a blockbuster story, as of 10AM Eastern on the day after the Hersh story was published, there are no news stories about it to be found in a Google News search.

_ BBC report openly admits the West uses jihadist groups to undermine enemies and are being used to “weaken the government in Damascus and to drive it to its knees at the negotiating table.”

Peter Oborne investigates claims that Britain and the West embarked on an unspoken alliance of convenience with militant jihadi groups in an attempt to bring down the Assad regime.

He hears how equipment supplied by the West to so called Syrian moderates has ended up in the hands of jihadis, and that Western sponsored rebels have fought alongside Al Qaeda. But what does this really tell us about the conflict in Syria?

This edition of The Report also examines the astonishing attempt to re brand Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, as an organisation with which we can do business.

_ A good time to read Andrew Cockburn’s article again.  “A Special Relationship: The United States is teaming up with Al Qaeda, again.”

_ At the end of the Hersh article, he concludes that now that the JCS has changed/rotated, there will be no more “indirect challenges” from the high level military leadership.  The new chairman of JCS, Gen Dunford, has dutifully proclaimed Russia to be the greatest threat to the United States.  Around the same time that Dempsey retired, Russia intervened directly into the Syrian war so presumably they now lead that effort in a hot war, and they are up against the Obama admin/CIA + Saudi, Qatar, Turkey etc if they continue to push forward with the regime change operations.  Hersh does mention the recent efforts of Tulsi Gabbard, a veteran in Congress, and that she has a considerable amount of quiet support there from those who realize what is going on.

Intelligence Reports on Syria, Rebels and ISIS

_ Hersh’s article describes a (summer) 2013 “highly classified” intelligence assessment done by Flynn’s DIA and Dempsey’s Joint Chiefs that was “all source”, drawn from many different kinds of intelligence, which “forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists“.  Brad Hoff, who published the 2012 DIA intelligence report obtained through an FOIA process and confirmed by Michael Flynn says that it was probably the “tip of the iceberg” on the knowledge and assessments about the likely outcome of the Obama, CIA and allies who were working to overthrow the Syrian government. “The assessment was bleak: there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists.”

_ Col Pat Lang, also cited in the Hersh article, described the differences in the ways that Dempsey and Flynn handled the situation, their constant warnings to the civilian leadership.  Flynn, who was more direct, got fired. Dempsey survived and retired in September.

German Intelligence

_ In August, 2014, Patrick Coburn reported on the passing of intelligence through the BND (German intelligence) to assist the Syrian government:

The US has already covertly assisted the Assad government by passing on intelligence about the exact location of jihadi leaders through the BND, the German intelligence service, a source has told The Independent. This may explain why Syrian aircraft and artillery have been able on occasion to target accurately rebel commanders and headquarters.


_ Turkey is the subject in several parts of the new Hersh article.  Moon of Alabama, who has done extensive analysis on the Syrian war, begins to probe the subject of Turkish intelligence (MIT) involvement in ISIS.

The MIT is the Turkish secret service. It is certainly not the only spy organization whicht has infiltrated the Islamic State. But as Turkey has been the rear base and travel route for the Islamic State and its members the MIT is likely the service with the biggest contingent.

How any spies and/or operators does it have within the Islamic State structures? Even more important – how influential are these within the Islamic State hierarchies?

_ For more information on the use of Uyghurs from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China, see this July, 2015 blog post at China Matters: “Uyghurs Edge Closer to Center of Turkish Diplomacy, Politics, and Geopolitical Strategy.”

Israeli Airstrike on Damascus Suburb

_ Putin’s spokesman was evasive on the question of whether Israel notified the Russian military before allegedly conducting an airstrike in Damascus suburb which killed Samir Kuntar “a former guerilla in the south of Lebanon” and eight others in a six-story residential building.  “There is a working mechanism of information exchanges between the general staffs. It is the military who should be addressed with this question and asked if there had been any prior notifications on that score.”  Kuntar spent decades in an Israeli jail for his part in a fatal attack when he was part of a Palestinian Liberation Front at age sixteen.  He was released in a 2008 prisoner exchange.  He was designated as a terrorist by the U.S. State Dept.  There have been reports of other Israeli strikes since Russia gave assurances of an arrangement with Israel that would not allow them to conduct attacks at will in Syria but it’s not clear whether they actually happened.  Hezbollah issued threats of retaliation. Rockets were fired into Israel by Hezbollah. Israel fired artillery into Lebanon and speculation about another Israel-Lebanon war is swirling.


_ Twenty years after the Bosnian war and NATO intervention, Bosnia’s president says the country is still recovering.  AP reports that there has been some investment in the country as a tourist destination for Gulf State countries looking for cooler summer vacations. “Attracted by cheap land and labor, Arab investors are looking to ride the trend… The mountainous Balkan country, which was devastated by the 1992-95 war, is becoming a popular destination for tourists from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar..”

Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

Joanne is a blogger with focus on issues of war and peace, a mom, engineer, software developer and amateur photographer.