Tag Archive | "CIA-SYRIA"

Don’t be Fooled, the CIA was Only Half the Problem in Syria


By Steven MacMillan – New Eastern Outlook 

The news that President Trump has halted the CIA program to arm and train rebel groups in Syria should be viewed with caution, as the CIA program only represented half of US involvement in Syria.  Even if we take this information as completely accurate, and the CIA will cease to be involved in any covert programs in Syria, there is still a giant arm of US imperialism that is going to be heavily involved in the Syrian conflict for the foreseeable future; namely, the Pentagon.

The notion that the CIA was the only branch of the US establishment involved in the destabilization of Syria is nonsense. The US has always had two operations running simultaneously in Syria, with one being run by the CIA, and other being ran by the Pentagon. As Reuters reported in an article in May of this year, titled: Syrian rebels say U.S., allies sending more arms to fend off Iran threat, military aid has been provided through “two separate channels:”

“Rebels said military aid has been boosted through two separate channels: a program backed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), known as the MOC, and regional states including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and one run by the Pentagon.”

These two programs have often clashed, as was the case last year, when militias armed by the CIA fought against militias armed by the Pentagon.

The Pentagon has been as involved in the disastrous operation to arm and train rebels in Syria as the CIA has, and has contributed heavily to the mess on the ground.

In September 2015 for instance, it was reported that a Pentagon-armed group of rebels – named Division 30 – handed over their weapons to al-Qaeda in Syria, a scenario that was a common outcome from many CIA operations as well. The Pentagon, never shy to blow an obscene amount of taxpayers’ money on imperial matters, has already wasted hundreds of millions of dollars training and arming rebels in Syria, yet Trump only wants to increase the US war budget. 

Trump: The Man of the Military 

Trump’s decision to halt the CIA program was hardly surprising, considering the support Trump has received from large sections of the military. A look at the backgrounds of the individuals that Trump has given cabinet positions reveals Trump’s close relationship with the military.

The Secretary of Homeland Security for instance, John Kelly, is a retired Marine Corps General and former Commander of US Southern Command. Trump’s pick for the Director of the CIA is even more telling, as Mike Pompeo has his roots in the military, graduating from West Point in the 1980s:

“Mr. Pompeo graduated first in his class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1986 and served as a cavalry officer patrolling the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also served with the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the US Army’s Fourth Infantry Division.”

Undoubtedly, there are many good forces in the US military (as in any other large organization), and there is nothing wrong with having a military background. But equally, there are also many nefarious forces in the military, and the influence of military-industrial complex is pervasive, constantly agitating for more imperial wars.

With this context in mind, it is hardly surprising that Trump favours the Pentagon program over the CIA one, especially considering the power struggle taking place between the CIA and the military within the US. It should be highlighted that Trump has notcompletely halted all US programs to arm and train militias in Syria, he has merely shutdown one channel.

Pentagon Using Kurds to Balkanize Syria 

The Pentagon has been heavily involved in arming Kurdish forces in Syria, using them as a tool to attempt to Balkanize and fracture Syria into micro-states. In May of this year, President Trump approved a plan – supported by many in the Pentagon – to arm the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), a Kurdish militia operating predominantly in northern Syria.

The YPG is also the controlling militia in the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes an array of other militias. In addition to providing arms to the YPG, US special forces have been pictured on the ground in northern Syria working in conjunction with YPG fighters.

When most of the public was distracted by the story of Trump halting the CIA program, footage surfaced showing US armed military vehicles passing through Qamishli – a city in northern Syria on the Turkish border – reportedly on route to Raqqa. The recipients of the vehicles are believed to be either the SDF or US forces directly, who are involved in the battle against ISIS in Raqqa.

If (or when) ISIS is defeated in Raqqa, it will be very interesting to see who ends up controlling the city. It is possible that the Pentagon wants to defeat ISIS in Raqqa, and then hand Raqqa to the Kurds – a scenario that many Kurds would only be too happy with. In March of this year, Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) – the political affiliate of the YPG – said that once ISIS is defeated in Raqqa, the city should be incorporated into a Kurdish state in northern Syria. 

The Pentagon’s support for Kurdish forces is clearly part of a strategy to break the northern part of the country away from control of the Syrian government in Damascus. A subservient Kurdish state in northern Syria (which would probably join with Kurdish zones in Iraq and other countries in the future) would allow the US to have a permanent military presence in Syria, and easy access to the natural resources in the Kurdish region.

The creation of a Kurdish state in northern Syria would of course cause a severe breakdown in relations with NATO member Turkey, given the views of the current Turkish leadership that is. Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group Ankara views as a terrorist organization. Turkey has repeatedly denounced US support for Kurdish groups in Syria, with this being a major source of disagreement between the US and Turkey. It is no coincidence that Turkish state media recently published a list of classified US military bases and outposts in northern Syria, with this information revealing the extent to which the US military is embedded in Kurdish-controlled regions in Syria.

The plan to Balkanize Syria is well on its way, and the Pentagon is leading the charge. How Russia positions herself in the coming months will be crucial for the future of Syria.

Posted in USA, C.I.A, SyriaComments Off on Don’t be Fooled, the CIA was Only Half the Problem in Syria

Will the CIA Obey a Trump Order to Stop Funding Terrorists?


An Interview with Rick Sterling


Late last week, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump will end covert support of militias attempting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. I spoke to Rick Sterling, investigative journalist for Consortium News and member of the Syria Solidarity Movement, about the report.

Ann Garrison: Rick Sterling, what’s your first reaction to the Washington Post’s claims?

Rick Sterling: If Trump orders the CIA to stop training and equipping extremists in Syria, that will be a good thing. We will have to see if this is implemented because sometimes they say one thing publicly but do other things secretly. For example, starting in late 2011, the CIA was coordinating the shipment of weapons from Libya to the armed opposition in Syria—in secret.

AG: The White House has refused to confirm the Washington Post report. If it is true, why do you think Trump won’t confirm?

RS: This is partly reflective of the power elites’ internal battle over foreign policy and whether Trump will actually move away from the aggressive “regime change” foreign policy. Those who favor escalation in Syria dominate discussion in the Washington Post and on CNN and MSNBC.

AG: And if this is true, won’t Trump be keeping at least one of his campaign promises?

Rick Sterling

RS: Yes, Trump would be taking a step that is in keeping with his campaign promise on Syria. It should be popular in the US because it’s a move away from war, and the CIA has wasted billions of dollars that have effectively ended up supporting Al-Qaeda/Nusra/HTS. Jabhat al-Nusra was the official branch of Al-Qaeda in Syria, but now it calls itself “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS).

AG: What’s your response to corporate press and politicians calling this a concession to Russia?

RS: The anti-Russia McCarthyism is so extreme that Trump seems almost afraid to announce the termination of the CIA program. Neoconservatives are framing the decision as a concession or even “appeasement” of Putin because they want to continue the conflict. They want to stop Trump from de-escalating tension with Russia and withdrawing from Syria.

AG: And what about those who are loathe to acknowledge that Trump could ever make a good decision about anything?

RS: Whether it’s Obama or Trump or John McCain, one should evaluate policies and actions and criticize or support them on their specific merits and faults. If Trump is really trying to de-escalate the Syrian conflict, that is a good policy. One can support that and remain critical of his policies and actions in other areas.

AG: The one time that corporate press, Democrats (excepting Tulsi Gabbard), and pro-war Republicans have applauded Trump’s foreign policy was when he launched 59 cruise missiles worth $60+ million dollars at Syria over their unproven use of chemical weapons. Your response?

RS: The attack on Syria was an illegal act of war without any justification. And there is increasing evidence that the Syrian government was NOT responsible for the chemical weapons deaths. The fact that western media congratulated Trump on that illegal action shows what their true goals are: to continue US “regime change” foreign policy and specifically to attack Syria no matter the cost in blood and treasure.

AG: Aren’t the Syria Solidarity Movement—and any of the rest of us who think that the US should stop arming terrorists—certain to be branded “pro-Trump” and “pro-Putin”?

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)

RS: Yes, but that should not stop anyone. The aggression against Syria needs to stop—that is in our American interests as well as those of all people in the Middle East. Tulsi Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists” legislation is common sense and should be supported.

AG: And what can the anti-war community—insofar as it exists—do to encourage Trump in this one policy from outside the power elite argument in Washington D.C.? A bill creating new sanctions against Russia, Syria, and Iran got such overwhelming support in Congress that President Trump doesn’t dare veto it because Congress has the numbers to override a veto. Only Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders voted against it in the Senate, and Sanders said that he voted no only because he supports sanctions on Russia and Syria but not Iran.

RS: Again, it’s not about the person, it’s about the policy. People who are concerned about international politics, peace, and justice should be writing, speaking out, and lobbying for de-escalation, and promoting more discussion and negotiation, including with Russia. When Trump encourages this, it’s a good thing and we should do whatever we can to support it.

AG: It’s often hard to believe that they give a damn about what those of us out here in the cheap seats think, but if they didn’t, they wouldn’t work so hard to control the narrative.

RS: We can all do a little bit, and when more and more people join in, we can make a difference. Just entering the debate changes the discussion.

AG: Last question: If Trump really does want to stop arming and funding Al-Qaeda/Nusra/HTS and other jihadist militias, won’t Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE step into the breach so they can keep fighting Assad—or the Kurds—with weapons that the US sold them?

RS: Yes, all those countries have been funding terrorists in Syria to attack and overthrow the Damascus government. Sometimes they work together; sometimes not. No matter, the Syrian Army and their allies have weathered the worst period and now are on the offensive. The mercenaries are in retreat, and the influx of brainwashed new recruits is drying up.

AG: Anything else you’d like to say?

RS: We are in a critical period where the enemies of Syria, including the CIA, may create a false flag incident to provoke and justify a direct intervention by the US, France, and others. Even if that does not happen, the pro-war elites clearly hope to use Kurdish forces to split off eastern Syria and install a puppet government. However, on the positive side, increasing numbers of Syrians who fled abroad are now returning to Syria. The reconciliation program is expanding. These are positive signs. After six years of bloodshed, it’s way past time for the enemies of Syria to stop supporting terrorism and let the Syrian people determine their own destiny.

Posted in USAComments Off on Will the CIA Obey a Trump Order to Stop Funding Terrorists?

Where Was CIA’s Pompeo on Syria?


President Trump meeting with his advisers at his estate in Mar-a-Lago on April 6, 2017
By Robert Parry | Consortium News 

There is a dark mystery behind the White House-released photo showing President Trump and more than a dozen advisers meeting at his estate in Mar-a-Lago after his decision to strike Syria with Tomahawk missiles: Where is CIA Director Mike Pompeo and other top intelligence officials?

Before the photo was released on Friday, a source told me that Pompeo had personally briefed Trump on April 6 about the CIA’s belief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was likely not responsible for the lethal poison-gas incident in northern Syria two days earlier — and thus Pompeo was excluded from the larger meeting as Trump reached a contrary decision.

At the time, I found the information dubious since Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior U.S. officials were declaring quite confidently that Assad was at fault. Given that apparent confidence, I assumed that Pompeo and the CIA must have signed off on the conclusion of Assad’s guilt even though I knew that some U.S. intelligence analysts had contrary opinions, that they viewed the incident as either an accidental release of chemicals or an intentional ploy by Al Qaeda rebels to sucker the U.S. into attacking Syria.

As strange as the Trump administration has been in its early months, it was hard for me to believe that Trump would have listened to the CIA’s views and then shooed the director away from the larger meeting before launching a military strike against a country not threatening America.

After the strike against Syria by 59 Tomahawk missiles, which Syrian officials said killed seven people including four children, Trump gave a speech to the American people declaring flatly:

“On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

As much as Trump stood to benefit politically by acting aggressively in attacking Syria — and thus winning praise even from his harshest critics — the idea that he would ignore the views of the U.S. intelligence community on an issue of war or peace was something that I found hard to believe.

So, I put aside what I had heard from the source about the discordant Pompeo-Trump meeting as the sort of tidbit that may come from someone who lacks first-hand knowledge and doesn’t get all the details right.

After all, in almost every similar situation that I had covered over decades, the CIA Director or the Director of National Intelligence has played a prominent role in decisions that depend heavily on the intelligence community’s assessments and actions.

For instance, in the famous photo of President Obama and his team waiting out the results of the 2011 raid to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, CIA Director Leon Panetta is the one on the conference screen that everyone is looking at.

Even when the U.S. government is presenting false information, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 speech laying out the bogus evidence of Iraq hiding WMDs, CIA Director George Tenet was seated behind Powell to lend credibility to the falsehoods.

At the Table

But in the photo of Trump and his advisers, no one from the intelligence community is in the frame. You see Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, strategic adviser Steve Bannon, son-in-law Jared Kushner and a variety of other officials, including some economic advisers who were at Mar-a-Lago in Florida for the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

However, you don’t see Pompeo or Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats or any other intelligence official. Even The New York Times noted the oddity in its Saturday editions, writing: “If there were C.I.A. and other intelligence briefers around, … they are not in the picture.”

That made me wonder whether perhaps my original source did know something. The claim was that CIA Director Pompeo had briefed Trump personally on the analysts’ assessment that Assad’s forces were not responsible, but – then with Pompeo sidelined – Trump conveyed his own version of the intelligence to his senior staff.

In other words, the other officials didn’t get the direct word from Pompeo but rather received a second-hand account from the President, the source said. Did Trump choose to rely on the smug certainty from the TV shows and the mainstream news media that Assad was guilty, rather than the contrary view of U.S. intelligence analysts?

After the attack, Secretary of State Tillerson, who is not an institutional intelligence official and has little experience with the subtleties of intelligence, was the one to claim that the U.S. intelligence community assessed with a “high degree of confidence” that the Syrian government had dropped a poison gas bomb on civilians in Idlib province.

While Tillerson’s comment meshed with Official Washington’s hastily formed groupthink of Assad’s guilt, it is hard to believe that CIA analysts would have settled on such a firm conclusion so quickly, especially given the remote location of the incident and the fact that the initial information was coming from pro-rebel (or Al Qaeda) sources.

Thus, a serious question arises whether President Trump did receive that “high degree of confidence” assessment from the intelligence community or whether he shunted Pompeo aside to eliminate an obstacle to his desire to launch the April 6 rocket attack.

If so, such a dangerous deception more than anything else we’ve seen in the first two-plus months of the Trump administration would be grounds for impeachment – ignoring the opinion of the U.S. intelligence community so the President could carry out a politically popular (albeit illegal) missile strike that killed Syrians.


Posted in C.I.A, SyriaComments Off on Where Was CIA’s Pompeo on Syria?

CIA Freezes Aid To Free Syrian Army


Fighters from the Free Syrian Army disembark from an armoured vehicle near the town of Bizaah northeast of the city of Al-Bab, some 30 kilometres from the Syrian city of Aleppo, on February 4, 2017

As Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s hold on western parts of Syria solidifies, the CIA is lessening its support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

No military assistance will be delivered to the FSA by the CIA “until matters are organized,” a source on the ground in Syria told Reuters. Specifically, FSA commanders said that the agency could be worried that, with growing jihadist assaults across the region, including the mass execution of up to 200 last week, the CIA is wary of putting cash and weapons into the hands of combatants that could then be given to regional terrorists.

Officials familiar with the CIA-led program said the decision to freeze aid has nothing to do with US President Donald Trump replacing President Barack Obama, even though Trump has indicated skepticism about the nature of US support of rebels in the region, saying that the US should focus efforts on Daesh, not Assad.

The FSA will continue to receive aid, however, from nations that receive weapons from the US and who oppose the Assad administration. While US aid to the FSA has been severed, at least temporarily, Zio-Wahhabi Qatar, Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime and NATO-member Turkey continue to pour weapons and money into groups aligned with the FSA. In 2015, Zio-Wahhabi regime of Qatar, a nation of two million, spent more money on US weapons than any other country, while Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family ranked third, behind Egypt, according to the US Congressional Research Service.

Turkish officials have remained quiet on the development, citing an unwillingness to divulge “operational details.” One FSA commander said that the group does not expect its supporters to abandon the FSA altogether, but that donors expect to send aid to a single fighting force, which has proved difficult to achieve in Syria. But the growing Sunni jihadist presence, as well as Iran’s increasing role in Syria, could mean that the FSA is the best opportunity to block the Sunni expansion, the source said. There are currently some 15,00 fighters loyal to the FSA, according to estimates.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on CIA Freezes Aid To Free Syrian Army

CIA Continues to Supply TOW Guided Missiles to Al Qaeda Affiliated ‘Syrian Rebels’ Involved in Child Beheading


Syrian “US-backed rebel group” Nour al-Din al-Zenki became widely known past July after beheading a child near Aleppo city and posting the video of this.

Initially, some mainstream media attempted to defend the ‘moderate opposition group’, explaining that it was a “mistake” and an isolated case.

However, under the pressure of public opinion, the US State Department was pushed to announce that the US may consider withdrawing its support from “rebels” if reports of beheading of 14-year old boy are confirmed.

Nour al-Din al-Zenki was a “CIA-vetted” group and was receiving TOW missiles through the CIA program.

The subsequent developments showed that child beheadings are not enough reason for the CIA to withdraw its support from Nour al-Din al-Zenki.

The group continues to use US-supplied TOW missiles.

On November 21, the group’s official Twitter page released a photo of group member, using a US-supplied missile.

Then, “moderate rebels” published a video, confirming this.

Sentense: Considering high intensity of battles in which the group is involved in Syria (for example in Aleppo city and in its countryside), there are almost no doubts that it uses newly-delivered missiles

Posted in SyriaComments Off on CIA Continues to Supply TOW Guided Missiles to Al Qaeda Affiliated ‘Syrian Rebels’ Involved in Child Beheading

Shoah’s pages