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US Plans To Give More Weapons To Al Qaeda-Linked Rebels In Syria

Remember, the US is not intervening in Syria. According to The Wall Street Journal, the CIA has drawn up plans to provide more-powerful weapons to the so-called moderate Syrian rebels if the current truce in Syria collapses. While the CIA has been arming rebels for years, this new plan would included sending advanced weapons that could be used against Syrian and Russian aircraft and artillery.

This latest plan, labeled “Plan B” in the WSJ piece, comes after the US supported flooding Syria with weapons from Saudi Arabia and other regional powers. The weapons were given initially to groups like ISIS before being sent primarily to “moderate” rebel groups such as Al Nusra: the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

The US also has its own arms program, which has been sent into networks that include Al Nusra, leading some to wonder if the US has decided to partner with Al Qaeda, much as it did in the 1980s to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

This is something President Barack Obama seemed quite cognizant of as he bypassed a law to prevent arming terrorists, called the Arms Export Control Act, in order to make the CIA arms program in Syria legal(ish). Even without the restrictions, the arms programs run by the CIA, as well as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have failed to secure the Syrian rebels victory over the Assad government.

In a seemingly parallel universe, US neoconservatives and their useful idiot liberal interventionists publicly lament that the US has not intervened in Syria–something that is news to just about everyone in the world paying attention. In fact, as WSJ notes, the US has been intervening for years and has escalated its involvement over time:

The CIA’s covert program has grown gradually since it was launched in 2013 with limited supplies of small arms and ammunition. In 2014, the CIA introduced advanced antitank TOW missiles on the battlefield, helping the rebels gain ground on the regime, until Russia’s intervention last year drove the fighters back.

More recently, the CIA has allowed some rebel groups to receive Soviet-era BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launcher systems, though the quantities have been relatively small, according to officials in the region.

The Plan B weapons systems would include man-portable air-defense systems (Manpads). Why hasn’t the CIA supplied them already? Well, Manpads can shoot down many different kinds of aircraft, including civilian aircraft. And, given that Al Qaeda is on the receiving end, it would be rather embarrassing and problematic for the CIA if Al Qaeda terrorists shot down a civilian plane carrying Americans with US weapons supplied by the CIA.

Such a terrorist attack would have be a tragic reminder of some of the unintended consequences brought by other “non-interventions” in the past.

Laquan McDonald Black Friday Mag Mile Protest March. Photo by kgnixer on Flickr
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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.