According to a recent New York Times article, it has been confirmed that the US CIA has been providing weapons to Syrian opposition fighters. The New York Times reported the CIA has been guiding “automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons” through a network of obscure intermediaries, mainly the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, and the weapons have been financed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
The irony in this is that the Obama Administration claims to not support further militarization of Syria. We have also been at war against sectarian extremism and “terrorism” for over a decade, so it is odd that the US government would choose to work with the Muslim Brotherhood to arm Syrian opposition fighters. However, the Obama administration has also stated that it would like to help forces that are opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian National Council, the main opposition group, according to the New York Times has recently begun to organize the “scattered, localized units that all fight under the name of the Free Syrian Army into a more cohesive force.” Another irony is that the “Free Syrian Army” is a “small collection of mercenaries, foreign fighters, and sectarian extremists, armed, funded, and directed by foreign interests solely to wreak havoc within Syria,” according to Tony Cartalucci. The Free Syrian Army was actually developed “in 2007 by the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, specifically to enact regime change and transform Syria into a Western client regime,” which was explained in a 2007 article by The New Yorker.
At this time, there are no definitive answers from Washington as to why it is participating in supplying Syrian opposition fighters with weapons and ammunition. It appears to be a way to participate in war-like activities against al-Assad’s regime without actually admitting that the US could be entering another war in the Middle East. I can’t imagine that officially engaging in another war would be very popular among Americans or a good move for President Obama with the election coming up in November.
At the same time, in all fairness to the Obama Administration and supporters of intervening in Syria, other countries– Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for example– have voiced a willingness to supply weapons to Syrian rebels. As John Hudson stated, “the U.S. could plausibly argue that if these countries are going to supply weapons anyway, the U.S. might as well make sure they stay out of the hands of extremist groups.” It is possible that the US government is setting itself up for another Iraq or Afghanistan-like situation. The US could be setting itself up for failure and future terrorist attacks by intervening, covertly or overtly, in Syria.