Congressman Ms. Gabbard, Tulsi (Tulsi Gabbard), who is also a member of the committees of the house of representatives on the armed forces and for foreign Affairs, introduced a bill that prohibits US to provide any assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria, as well as any organizations directly cooperating with them. More importantly, this bill prohibits the USA to sell arms and to cooperate in the military sphere with the countries that provide weapons and financed these terrorist organizations and their supporters.
Ms. Gabbard invited the Law on the termination of financing of terrorists (Stop Arming Terrorists Act) was the first attempt to challenge in Congress, U.S. policy towards Syria and the ongoing civil war there — an attempt that should have been undertaken long ago: in 2012-2013, the Obama administration helped their Sunni allies — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to provide weapons to Syrian and not Syrian armed groups, so that they could overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. And in 2013, the administration began to send weapons to those whom the CIA believed was a “relatively moderate” opposition groups, which often professed the principles of Islamist extremism.
This policy, which was to facilitate the replacement of the Assad regime to a more democratic regime, in fact, contributed to the transformation of the Syrian branch of “al-Qaeda”*, “Front EN-Nusra”*, the main threat to the Assad government.
Supporters of the policy of providing weapons think it’s necessary to do in order to counter the growing influence of Iran in Syria. However, this argument is irrelevant to the real problem that arose in connection with the policy of the United States. The Syrian policy of Obama’s administration actually undermined the process of implementation of the interests of the United States, which had become the cornerstone of the “global war on terror”, namely the destruction of “al-Qaeda” and its associated terrorist organizations. In essence, the United States subordinated its own interests involving terrorism and the interests of its Sunni allies. Thus, they helped create a new terrorist threat in the heart of the Middle East.
The policy of arming paramilitary groups seeking to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad began in September 2011, when the Sunni allies of President Barack Obama — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, asked him to provide heavy weapons to the paramilitary opposition, whose regime they intended to establish in Syria. Turkey and the Gulf countries wanted the United States has provided the rebels with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, as one former official of the Obama administration.
Obama refused to provide weapons to the opposition, but he agreed to provide a hidden logistic support in the campaign to provide military assistance, involving the transfer of weapons to opposition groups. CIA involvement in the arming of anti-Assad forces began with the organization of the supply of weapons from the warehouses of Gaddafi’s regime, which survived in Benghazi. Controlled by CIA, the company sent the weapon from a military port in Benghazi in two small port in Syria, attracting former us military, who was entrusted with the logistics problems. About it in 2014 he wrote in his report the journalist Sy Hersh (Sy Hersh). Funds for this program came primarily from Saudi Arabia.
The declassified Intelligence report Department of the Ministry of defense, issued in October 2012, said that the shipment of arms sent at the end of August 2012, consisted of 500 rifles, sniper rifles, 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs), and 300 rounds for the RPG and 400 howitzers. As mentioned in the report, each party had 10 cargo containers, each of which had 20 tonnes of cargo. That is, the total weight of each shipment reached approximately 250 tons. Even if the CIA organized the supply of only one such party in a month, total shipments of weapons to Syria from October 2011 to August 2012 was to reach 2750 tons. Most likely, in reality, the total supply was many times larger.
Operation CIA covert arms shipments from Libya was stopped suddenly in September 2012, when Libyan militants attacked and burned the building of the Embassy in Benghazi, which was used for this operation. By the time a much larger supply of weapons to anti-government groups have already started their work. The CIA helped the Saudis to establish contact with a senior Croatian official who offered to sell a large consignment of weapons remaining after the Balkan wars of the 1990-ies. CIA helped Saudis to buy weapons from vendors and governments of several countries of the former Soviet bloc.
Having a large number of weapons obtained as a result of the Libyan operation, the CIA purchased from the Croats, in December 2012, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have dramatically increased the number of flights of military cargo planes to Turkey and kept their intensity for the next two and a half months. As reported by the New York Times, by mid-March 2013 the total number of such flights was 160. The IL-76, which is most commonly used for solving such problems in the Gulf countries, can raise the air about 50 tons of cargo, i.e. from the end of 2012 to beginning of 2013 through the Turkish border to Syria was delivered about 8 thousand tons of weapons.
One us official called the new level of supply of weapons to Syrian rebels “waterfall arms”. The results lasted the whole year of the investigation conducted by the Balkan investigative journalism network (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network) and the Project for investigation of corruption and organized crime (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project), showed that the Saudis had intended to create a powerful conventional army in Syria. In the “end-user certificate” weapons purchased from the same company in Belgrade, Serbia, in may 2013, provided 500 Soviet grenade PG-7VR, can penetrate thick tank armor, along with 2 million rounds, 50 anti-tank missile complexes “Competition” with 500 missiles, 50 anti-aircraft guns, 10 thousand fragmentation grenade OG-7, able to penetrate heavy armor, four jet systems of volley fire BM-21 “Grad”, each of which is able to simultaneously produce 40 rockets with a range from 19 to 30 kilometers, and 20 thousand rockets “Grad”.
In the end-user certificate by another party sent to Saudi Arabia this Serbian company, it was stated 300 tanks, 2 thousand and 16.5 RPG thousands of other missiles, a million rounds for ZU-23-2 and 315 million rounds of ammunition for various weapons.
These two parties are only a small fraction of the amount of weapons that Saudi Arabia has acquired over the next few years eight of the Balkan States. Experts have found that the Saudis had concluded major transactions with the countries of the former Soviet bloc in 2015 and that many weapons systems sold to the Saudis, was brand new. Moreover, almost 40% of the weapons purchased by the Saudis, these countries were not delivered until early 2017. That is, the Saudis have entered into contracts for the supply of arms to wage a full-scale war in Syria for several more years.
However the most significant one-time purchase of weapons by the Saudis was a purchase, not the Balkan States, and the United States. We are talking about selling 15 thousand heavy anti-tank TOW missiles, which cost Saudi Arabia $ 1 billion. This transaction was a result of Obama’s decision to remove its ban on providing lethal weapons to the armed groups antiacademic. Moreover, the Saudis have promised that these anti-tank systems fall into the hands of the Syrian rebels only with the permission of the United States. These complexes appeared in Syria in 2014 and soon had a significant impact on the military balance in the country.
This pouring into Syria avalanche of weapons along with the arrival of 20 thousand foreign fighters — mainly from Turkey — in a much defined the nature of this conflict. These weapons helped turn the Syrian branch of “al-Qaeda”, “al-Nusra Front” (which is now called “Tahrir al-sham”*), and his faithful allies in the most powerful antiacademic force in Syria — and became the impetus for the formation of the “Islamic state”*.
By the end of 2012 American officials, it became clear that the bulk of the weapons, which began to arrive in the country since the beginning of the year, went to the militants “al-Qaeda” and its allies, who are rapidly strengthening their position in Syria. In October 2012, us officials admitted in a conversation with reporters New York Times that “most” weapons melted down to armed opposition groups in Syria supported by the United States during the previous year, fell into the hands of “radical Islamic jihadists” — that is, in the hands of the militants of the “Front EN-Nusra”.
“Front EN-Nusra” and its allies became the main beneficiaries, because Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar wanted the weapons fall into the hands of those military groups that have demonstrated the highest results in the fight against government forces. By the summer of 2012 “front an-Nusra” joined its ranks by several thousand foreign jihadists have arrived in Syria via the Turkish border, already fulfilled the role of the leader in the attacks on the troops of the Syrian government in close cooperation with the crews of the “free Syrian army”.
In November and December 2012, militants of the “Front EN-Nusra” together with representatives of the “Syrian free army” began to create a kind of “focal points” on several fronts, as written by Charles Lister (Charles Lister) in his book “Syrian Jihad”. One of the commanders, who like Washington, was Colonel Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi (Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi), a former officer of the Syrian army, who headed the Revolutionary military Council of Aleppo. Ambassador Robert Ford (Robert Ford), who retained this position even after he had to leave Syria, publicly met with Okaidi in may 2013 to inform him about the readiness of the USA to support him.
However, Okaidi and his troops were only Junior partners in the coalition forces, Alepou, which is the strongest element was the “Front EN-Nusra”. The real situation can be assessed by video in which Okaidi talks about his good relations with the leaders of the “Islamic States” and which shows, as he celebrates the capture of the military base of the Syrian government, which occurred in September 2013, together with the chief commander of the jihadists in the province of Aleppo.
By the beginning of 2013, the “free Syrian army”, which never, in fact, was not a military organization, ceased to play any significant role in the Syrian conflict. New antiasadovskie group even stopped to use this name to identify yourself as one specialist on the Syrian conflict.
Therefore, when the Turkish arms were arriving on different fronts, all nagyagite group knew that this weapon will get the “Front EN-Nusra” and its closest allies. In the McClatchy report, published in early 2013 and is dedicated to the situation in the city in the North Central part of Syria, spoke of how the military agreement between the “Front EN-Nusra” and the crews of the “free Syrian army” managed the distribution of weapons. A few weeks earlier one of these groups — the “Team victory” — took part in a successful attack on a strategic city along with the most important military ally of “al Qaeda” brigade of “Ahrar al-sham”*. One reporter watched as members of the brigade “Ahrar al-sham”, brought new weapons, including made in Russia the RPG-27 grenade launchers RG-6.
© AP Photo, AP photo via militant, FileБоевик “Islamic state” during a battle with Syrian government forces in HOMS province
To the question, handed the “Team victory” of the new weapons “Ahrar al-sham”, the representative of the latter said: “of Course, she gave us weapons. We fight together.”
Turkey and Qatar have deliberately chosen the “al-Qaeda” and its closest ally, “Ahrar al-sham”, as a recipient of weapons systems. In late 2013 and early 2014, the Turkish police intercepted several trucks with arms that were sent to the Hatay province in southern Turkey. According to the testimony of Turkish police officers, these goods accompanied some of the members of the Turkish intelligence. This province is controlled by fighters of “Ahrar al-sham”. Soon, Turkey started to refer to “Ahrar al-sham” as their main client in Syria, as he said, Faysal Itani (Faysal Itani), senior researcher of the Center for the study of the Middle East, Rafic Hariri at the Atlantic Council.
One agent of the Qatari intelligence, which was involved in supplying weapons to extremist groups in Libya, became a key figure in organizing the supply of weapons from Turkey to Syria. One agent Arab intelligence services are familiar with the content of the negotiations with external suppliers, held in Turkey near the Syrian border in those years, told the Washington Times that, when one of the negotiators warned that foreign powers support the jihadists, while the non-Islamist groupings gradually run out of steam, the representative of Qatar said, “I will send weapons, even al-Qaeda if it will help.”
According to one diplomatic source in the middle East, Qatar supplied weapons as a “Front EN-Nusra” and “Ahrar al-sham”. In 2013, members of the National security Council under the Obama administration offered U.S. officials to Express their dissatisfaction at the fact that Qatar is arming the extremists in Syria and Libya, removing fighters from the American air base in Qatar. The Pentagon rejected the proposal to retain the access to this database.
As Hersh writes, President Obama discussed with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) theme support, which his government had provided the jihadists, during a dinner at the White house in may 2013. “We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria,” said Obama, referring to Erdogan.
Meanwhile publicly, the US administration briefly mentioned Turkey’s cooperation with the “al-Nusra Front” only at the end of 2014. Shortly after departure from Ankara Francis Ricciardone (Francis Indira filicetti), U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 2011 to mid-2014, told the Daily Telegraph that Turkey “frankly, for some time cooperated with groups, including “al-Nusra””.
The closest thing to publicly accuse their allies in providing arms to the Syrian terrorists, Washington came when Vice President Joe Biden (Joe Biden) has criticized their actions in October 2014. During his impromptu speech at the Kennedy School at Harvard, Biden complained that “our biggest problem is our allies”. According to him, those forces, which they provided arms, was “”an-Nusra”, al-Qaeda and extremist elements from the number of jihadists coming from other countries of the world.”
Biden quickly apologized for his words, explaining that he does not mean that allies of the United States knowingly provided weapons to the jihadists. But Ambassador Ford joined the complaint, saying in an interview with the BBC: “what Biden said about our allies, contributing to the deepening problems of extremism, is true.”
In June 2013, Obama gave his consent to the first direct delivery of lethal weapons to rebel brigades that the CIA carefully checked. The spring 2014 made in USA anti-tank rocket launchers BGM-71E of those that were transferred to Saudi Arabia, began to appear in the hands of few anti-Assad groups. But the CIA has put forward the condition that those groups that receive them, not worked with “Frente al-Nusra” and its allies.
This condition meant that Washington was supplying weapons to the armed groups that are strong enough to preserve the independence of the “Front EN-Nusra”. However, all groups from the list of “relatively moderate” rebels, checked the CIA, was extremely vulnerable to the influence and power of the “Front EN-Nusra”. In November 2014, the militants of the “Front EN-Nusra” attacked the two strongest groups supported by the CIA — “Harakat Hazm” and “Syrian revolutionary front” — capturing their heavy weaponry, including anti-tank rocket launchers and TOW missile launchers “Grad”.
At the beginning of March 2015 branch “Harakat Hazm” in Aleppo ceased to exist, and “Frente al-Nusra” immediately showed pictures of TOW missiles and other weapons that they managed to capture after its collapse. In March 2016 the militants “an-Nusra” attacked the headquarters of the 13th division in the Northwest province of Idlib and seized all of its missiles TOW. Later, also in March, “Front EN-Nusra” posted a video which shows how the militants use the installation of TOW, which they had seized.
However, this was not the only way in which “al-Nusra Front” took advantage of the generosity of the CIA. Together with his close ally, “Ahrar al-sham” the terrorist organization began to plan a campaign to capture control over the whole province of Idlib in the winter of 2014-2015. Ceasing to pretend that they have nothing in common with “al-Qaeda”, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have started to work together with the “Front EN-Nusra” on the creation of a new armed group to Idlib under the name “Army of conquest”, which included the militants of the “Front EN-Nusra” and its closest allies. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have provided another batch of weapons to achieve this task, and the Turkey helped to smuggle him to Syria. March 28, four days after the start of the campaign, “Army of conquest” was successfully seized control over the city of Idlib.
Nagyagite group receiving modern weapons in the CIA program, did not participate in the initial offensive in Idlib. After the capture of the city of Idlib, the operational point in the U.S., located in the South of Turkey, has signaled the CIA supported groups that they can now take part in the campaign to consolidate control over the rest of the province. As reported Lister, a British expert on jihadists in Syria, which maintains contact with the jihadists and other armed groups, the beneficiaries of the CIA, such as the 13th division, joined the “Front EN-Nusra” in his campaign to seize Idlib, and the CIA didn’t even try to stop them.
When the offensive began, Idlib, supported by the CIA group has received many missiles TOW, and now they are extremely effectively used them against the tanks of the Syrian army. This was the beginning of a new phase of the war, during which US policy was to support the Alliance’s “relatively moderate” groups and the “Front EN-Nusra”.
This new Alliance has spread to Aleppo, where jihadist groups close to “al-Nusra Front” has created a new Association under the name “Fateh Halab”* together with nine armed groups in the province of Aleppo, received aid from the CIA. Supported by the CIA group had every right to say that they do not cooperate with the “Front EN-Nusra”, because it’s an offshoot of “al-Qaeda” was not included in the official list of members of the Association. However, as stated in one report, it was just a ploy of the CIA had the opportunity to continue to supply weapons to its clients, despite their de facto Alliance with “al-Qaeda”.
The essence of all this is clear: because the United States helped their Sunni allies to provide weapons to “front an-Nusra” and its allies and supplied to the combat zone modern weapons, which sooner or later had to be in the hands of “al-Nusra” and to strengthen their military position, Washington is responsible for the expansion of the zone of influence of “al-Qaeda” in Syria. The CIA and the Pentagon are obviously ready to close eyes on such a departure from the America counter-terrorism mission. If Congress or the White house did not openly oppose such a betrayal — as urged by Ms. Gabbard Tulsi in his bill — the United States will continue to promote the consolidation of the power of “al-Qaeda” in Syria, even if the “Islamic state” will suffer a defeat there.
* A terrorist organization banned in Russia