The CIA's Benghazi Operation May Have Violated International Law
MICHAEL B KELLEY -------- Business Insider
It's public knowledge now that the U.S. mission in Benghazi was "at its heart" a CIA operation, and there is evidence that U.S. agents--particularly murdered ambassador Chris Stevens—were aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to Syrian rebels.
But don't expect an confession from the CIA or the Obama administration.
"The CIA can't admit their role because it compromises the cover of the facility, and that's the most important thing," Bob Baer, who spent two decades as a field officer in the CIA, told the Huffington Post. "You can never compromise cover."
Since most of the Syrian opposition's weapons are being handed out by the CIA, it would make sense that the heavy weapons that rebels are now using to shoot down regime aircraft came from a covert CIA operation.
The exposure of such an operation would raise serious issues since transferring arms to anyone associated with al-Qaeda—which may include some of the best fighters among the Syrian opposition—would violate a binding UN arms embargo that prohibits arms transfers by UN member states to countries or groups including al-Qaeda.
The Obama administration is equally hamstrung because any admission of gun-running would would validate Russia's long-held position that it is arming radicals in Syria.
For months Russia has accused the U.S. of providing support to "terrorists" to topple the government in breach of international law, and recently a top general recently claimed that the U.S. was “coordinating” deliveries of arms—including U.S.-made anti-aircraft missiles—to Syrian rebels.
The State Department contends that the U.S. is not directly providing any lethal assistance to the rebels and that the only heavy weapons seen in Syria were “Soviet vintage.”
That argument is technically true but increasingly weak since most of the weapons going to jihadists in Syria are U.S.-made and the heavy weapons that traveled from Benghazi to Turkey are Soviet-era missiles taken from Libyan government arsenals after the Libyan revolution.
In short, if a covert U.S. operation to divert heavy weapons from Libya to Syrian rebels is now exposed, it would be an international black mark on the U.S. government and its spy agency. But you probably won't hear that from them.
C.I.A. Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels
By MARK MAZZETTI ---- NY Times
WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency has run guns to insurgencies across the world during its 67-year history — from Angola to Nicaragua to Cuba. The continuing C.I.A. effort to train Syrian rebels is just the latest example of an American president becoming enticed by the prospect of using the spy agency to covertly arm and train rebel groups.
An internal C.I.A. study has found that it rarely works.
The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration’s protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.
The findings of the study, described in recent weeks by current and former American government officials, were presented in the White House Situation Room and led to deep skepticism among some senior Obama administration officials about the wisdom of arming and training members of a fractured Syrian opposition.
But in April 2013, President Obama authorized the C.I.A. to begin a program to arm the rebels at a base in Jordan, and more recently the administration decided to expand the training mission with a larger parallel Pentagon program in Saudi Arabia to train “vetted” rebels to battle fighters of the Islamic State, with the aim of training approximately 5,000 rebel troops per year.
So far the efforts have been limited, and American officials said that the fact that the C.I.A. took a dim view of its own past efforts to arm rebel forces fed Mr. Obama’s reluctance to begin the covert operation.
“One of the things that Obama wanted to know was: Did this ever work?” said one former senior administration official who participated in the debate and spoke anonymously because he was discussing a classified report. The C.I.A. report, he said, “was pretty dour in its conclusions.”
The debate over whether Mr. Obama acted too slowly to support the Syrian rebellion has been renewed after both former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta wrote in recent books that they had supported a plan presented in the summer of 2012 by David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director, to arm and train small groups of rebels in Jordan.
Mr. Obama rejected that plan, but in the months that followed, Obama administration officials continued to debate the question of whether the C.I.A. should arm the rebels. Mr. Petraeus’s original plan was reworked until Mr. Obama signed a secret order authorizing the covert training mission after intelligence agencies concluded that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria had used chemical weapons against opposition forces and civilians.
This greatly helps to explain the President's apparent reluctance to get involved in the Syrian conflict. Short of a U.S. invasion, we just don't have the toolkit to affect the outcome.
Although Mr. Obama originally intended the C.I.A. to arm and train the rebels to fight the Syrian military, the focus of the American programs has shifted to training the rebel forces to fight the Islamic State, an enemy of Mr. Assad.
The C.I.A. review, according to several former American officials familiar with its conclusions, found that the agency’s aid to insurgencies had generally failed in instances when no Americans worked on the ground with the foreign forces in the conflict zones, as is the administration’s plan for training Syrian rebels.
One exception, the report found, was when the C.I.A. helped arm and train mujahedeen rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan during the 1980s, an operation that slowly bled the Soviet war effort and led to a full military withdrawal in 1989. That covert war was successful without C.I.A. officers in Afghanistan, the report found, largely because there were Pakistani intelligence officers working with the rebels in Afghanistan.
But the Afghan-Soviet war was also seen as a cautionary tale. Some of the battle-hardened mujahedeen fighters later formed the core of Al Qaeda and used Afghanistan as a base to plan the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. This only fed concerns that no matter how much care was taken to give arms only to so-called moderate rebels in Syria, the weapons could ultimately end up with groups linked to Al Qaeda, like the Nusra Front.
“What came afterwards was impossible to eliminate from anyone’s imagination,” said the former senior official, recalling the administration debate about whether to arm the Syrian rebels.
Mr. Obama made a veiled reference to the C.I.A. study in an interview with The New Yorker published this year. Speaking about the dispute over whether he should have armed the rebels earlier, Mr. Obama told the magazine: “Very early in this process, I actually asked the C.I.A. to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come up with much.”
Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said that “without characterizing any specific intelligence products, the president was referring to the fact that providing money or arms alone to an opposition movement is far from a guarantee of success.”
“We have been very clear about that from the outset as we have articulated our strategy in Syria,” Ms Meehan said. “That is why our support to the moderate Syrian opposition has been deliberate, targeted and, most importantly, one element of a multifaceted strategy to create the conditions for a political solution to the conflict.”
Arming foreign forces has been central to the C.I.A.'s mission from its founding, and was a staple of American efforts to wage proxy battles against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The first such operation was in 1947, the year of the agency’s creation, when President Harry S. Truman ordered millions of dollars’ worth of guns and ammunition sent to Greece to help put down a Communist insurgency there. In a speech before Congress in March of that year, Mr. Truman said the fall of Greece could destabilize neighboring Turkey, and “disorder might well spread throughout the entire Middle East.”
That mission helped shore up the fragile Greek government. More frequently, however, the C.I.A. backed insurgent groups fighting leftist governments, often with calamitous results. The 1961 Bay of Pigs operation in Cuba, in which C.I.A.-trained Cuban guerrillas launched an invasion to fight Fidel Castro’s troops, ended in disaster. During the 1980s, the Reagan administration authorized the C.I.A. to try to bring down Nicaragua’s Sandinista government with a secret war supporting the contra rebels, who were ultimately defeated.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, C.I.A. paramilitary officers and Army Special Forces teams fought alongside Afghan militias to drive Taliban forces out of the cities and set up a new government in Kabul. In 2006, the C.I.A. set up a gunrunning operation to arm a group of Somali warlords who united under the Washington-friendly name the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism. That effort backfired, strengthening the Islamist fighters that the C.I.A. had intervened to defeat.
“It’s a very mixed history,” said Loch K. Johnson, a professor of public and international affairs at the University of Georgia and an intelligence expert. “You need some really good, loyal people on the ground ready to fight.”
The progress of the Syrian conflict has only deepened skepticism about the loyalties — and the capabilities — of the Syrian opposition. Years of a bloody civil war have splintered the forces fighting the Assad government’s troops, with an increasing number of fighters pledging loyalty to radical groups like the Islamic State and the Nusra Front.
Last month, Mr. Obama said he would redouble American efforts by having the Pentagon participate in arming and training rebel forces. That program has yet to begin.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said last week that it would be months of “spade work” before the military had determined how to structure the program and how to recruit and vet the rebels.
“This is going to be a long-term effort,” he said.
Remember Daniel Ortega? He's back.
By Danna Harman ---- The Christian Science Monitor
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician who has been President of Nicaragua since 2007; previously he was leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, first as Coordinator of the Junta of National Reconstruction and then as President. (Wikipedia)
Washington, which backed the contra rebels in a civil war against Ortega's government of the 1980s until he lost the 1990 election, is none too pleased with the prospect. After toppling the Somoza family dictatorship in 1979, Ortega's Soviet-backed Sandinistas sparked widespread US intervention in Central America to counter what Washington saw as a communist threat in the region.
U.S. Goal Is to Make Syrian Rebels Viable ----
SEPT. 18, 2014
Arms Airlift to Syrian Rebels Expands, With C.I.A. Aid ---- MARCH 24, 2013
C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Rebels ---- JUNE 21, 2012
In ‘Spirited’ Talks, Kerry Tells Iraq to Help Stop Arms Shipments to Syria
By MICHAEL R. GORDON and TIM ARANGO MARCH 24, 2013
BAGHDAD — Secretary of State John Kerry told Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, on Sunday that Iraq must take steps to stop Iran from shipping arms to Syria through Iraqi airspace. But an hour and 40 minutes of discussions here, which Mr. Kerry said were sometimes “spirited,” failed to yield a breakthrough on the issue.
As Mr. Kerry prepared to leave Iraq afterward, he warned that the Iranian flights were sustaining the government of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and were undermining Iraq’s standing with American lawmakers.
“Anything that supports President Assad is problematic,” Mr. Kerry said at a news conference here, where he voiced hope that progress might be made in resolving the issue.
Mr. Kerry’s visit to Iraq on Sunday was the first by an American secretary of state since 2009. He came at a time when concerns are growing over Iraq’s role in the crisis in Syria, and when the United States’ influence in Iraq has been dwindling.
The State Department has been sharply reducing its huge presence here, and its diplomats have seemed powerless to affect the course of events on two of Washington’s pressing concerns: Iraqi tolerance for the Iranian weapons shipments to Syria and issuance of arrest warrants for certain Sunni leaders by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.
The Obama administration has appeared to be less engaged in Iraq in recent months, as it has sought to “normalize” relations, and the Iraqis have distanced themselves from their former occupiers. And there is a sense among many Iraqi officials that the Americans are no longer willing to marshal the influence they still have.
“The Americans are not using claws or teeth,” Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Mr. Maliki’s former national security adviser, said shortly before Mr. Kerry’s visit.
A headline Sunday in the Iraqi newspaper Al Mada referring to President Obama’s trip last week to the Middle East read, “Obama Visited the Region but Ignored Iraq.” The article noted that “Iraq was not even mentioned in Obama’s speeches to the region” and said that “all the protests and bombings in Iraq haven’t come to the attention of Obama.”
The Iranian flights, which are vitally important for Mr. Assad’s forces, represent a major challenge for American strategy concerning Syria. Mr. Kerry has repeatedly said that the Obama administration wants to change Mr. Assad’s “calculation” that he can prevail, and persuade him to relinquish power and agree to a political transition.
But Robert Ford, the American ambassador to Syria and the senior State Department official dealing with the Syrian opposition, told Congress last week that Iran has been “plussing up” its aid and strengthening Mr. Assad’s belief that he can defeat the rebels militarily. A senior State Department official traveling with Mr. Kerry said that planes carrying Iranian arms reach Syria almost daily.
American officials have repeatedly insisted to Iraq that it should request that the Iranian flights land and be inspected. But the Iraqis have done so only twice since July, the State Department official said. In one of those cases, the plane was on its way back to Tehran from Syria, and its cargo was already delivered.
Iran has said the flights carry only humanitarian aid.
As a senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Kerry suggested that the United States consider linking its support for Iraq with Mr. Maliki’s willingness to order inspections of Iranian flights. “If so many people have entreated the government to stop, and that doesn’t seem to be having an impact,” Mr. Kerry said in September, “that sort of alarms me a little bit, and seems to send a signal to me, maybe we should make some of our assistance or some of our support contingent on some kind of appropriate response.”
But as a secretary of state, Mr. Kerry has been less confrontational. In his meeting with Mr. Maliki on Sunday, Mr. Kerry argued that Iraq ought to have a role in international discussions about Syria’s post-Assad future, but to secure that role, it was important that Iraq stop facilitating aid for Mr. Assad.
“We agreed to try to provide more information with respect to this,” Mr. Kerry said afterward, alluding to Iraq’s insistence that the American government share with Iraq its intelligence on the Iranian flights, to show that they were carrying arms.
Whether that will sway Mr. Maliki is unclear. Iran has an enormous stake in Syria: it is Iran’s staunchest Arab ally and a conduit for supporting Hezbollah, the Lebanese Islamist movement. Iraq, too, has a lot at stake there. The prospect of a rebel victory in Syria and the rise of a Sunni-led government, Mr. Maliki fears, might embolden Sunnis in Iraq. So his Shiite-dominated government has increasingly sided with Mr. Assad as well.
American promises to help shape a stable democracy in Syria have been met with skepticism by some Iraqi officials. In an interview late in 2012, Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, the chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, recalled a visit in September from A. Elizabeth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs. “What she said was that they would educate the Syrians on how to be a democracy,” Mr. Hamoudi said, adding with a hint of sarcasm, “just like what happened in Iraq.”
Concerning Iraq’s fraught domestic politics, which lurch from crisis to crisis, Mr. Kerry encouraged Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish lawmakers to cooperate, and pressed the Iraqi government to reconsider its recent decision to postpone provincial elections in two Sunni-dominated provinces — Anbar and Nineveh — where street protests have erupted in recent months.
“Everyone needs to vote simultaneously,” Mr. Kerry said on Sunday, adding that “no country knows more about voting under difficult circumstances than Iraq.” The elections had been scheduled for April 20.
Mr. Kerry also asked Sunni leaders to give up their boycott of participation in the Iraqi cabinet. He met with Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni who is the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, and spoke by telephone with Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdish regional government, who is in Erbil.
“It’s an important moment,” Mr. Kerry said at the start of a meeting with Mr. Nujaifi, alluding to stalled efforts at political reconciliation. “There’s a lot happening, and a lot not happening.”
Our History Leads Us to the Present
from the Rio Grande to the Straits of Magellan, the United States, protected by two oceans from foreign invaders, maintained rigid control of two continents, and did not hesitate to send troops or assist local militias to prevent establishment of any government hostile to U.S. economic or political interests. Despotic regimes that kept their populations in permanent oppression operated with consent of their American patron. Meanwhile France and Great Britain were still attempting to exercise control over peoples in Asia, Middle East and Africa. Until the aggressive western powers halted their self-serving actions why would the Soviets be more polite in protecting their interests?
But they were. After transforming East Europe into a communist region, the Soviet Union retreated from increasing its hegemony in other parts of the world, and mainly reacted to situations forced upon it, as in Cuba, Vietnam, Egypt, North Korea, and Afghanistan. Except for the latter conflict, Soviet troops, other than a few fighter pilots in North Korea and Egypt, did not move beyond Eastern bloc borders, and the communist government only provided material assistance to nations they claimed needed arms for legitimate self-defense. Not so for the United States, whose military wandered the entire globe and engaged in direct and punishing combat and offensive military actions.
An objective appraisal of the causes of and responsibility for the Cold War confuses all and satisfies few. Perceived in another manner, the Cold war never existed; it was just a definition for an interlude. During the years from 1945-1991, the western powers continued their century old pursuits to dominate world trade routes, resources and markets through bribery, pressure, alliances, subterfuge and wars. Although there was a legitimate fear that Soviet power could penetrate into western Europe, the 'Cold War' was not a means to chill Soviet expansion, of which there was almost none after the redefinition of borders at the end of World War II; the 'Cold War' was an argument for preventing Soviet might from challenging U.S. hegemony in the globe and a deliberate attempt to marginalize communist economic and social systems that could counter western economies and their capitalist systems. The latter, in retrospect, may seem mythical, but rapid Soviet scientific advances in the immediate post-war period - development of the hydrogen bomb, powerful rockets and launching of a man into space - and a high growth rate of industrial production until 1970 disturbed western governments. Maintaining an arms race was one method to divert the Soviets from production of capital and consumer goods to depletion of their energies and finances in useless armaments. Denying imports of strategic goods and refusing exports of unnecessary surplus also hampered the socialist economies.
NATO's continuation after the demise of the Soviet Union validates the thesis that collective self-defense, which meant halting Soviet aggression and advances, was not the reason for the Cold War. After 1991, rather than disbanding, NATO changed its mission and expanded its reach. Aggressive interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo devastated Yugoslavia. NATO ground forces have operated in Afghanistan, its air forces have bombed Libya, its personnel have performed training missions Iraq, and its naval forces have scouted the Gulf of Aden. NATO enlargement from an original 12 nations to a present 28 nations, several of whom were allied with the Nazi regime during World War II, demonstrates that NATO is not a product of the Cold War but an excuse for the Cold War; and as long as it is around, there is bound to be trouble.
Russian President Vladimir Putin understands that having his nation's western border cluttered with NATO missiles and member nations is not a strategy of collective defense but a strategy of collective offense. He is offended and is seeking a proper defense. In this context, Putin's statement that Washington "attempts to create a unipolar world" and his accusing "Britain and U.S. of double standards" are not propaganda but arise from honest convictions.
The decline of the Soviet Union disrupted the balance of power and allowed the United States to proceed in its endeavors without a countervailing force to impede its actions. Whether deliberate or self-seeking, the United States in the last decades has spread its slogan of peace, freedom and democracy to all corners of the world without asking others if they were prepared to receive the enlightening mixture.
Many examples of U.S. and Great Britain behaving with a double standard in international issues can be cited; none is more apparent than their support for Saudi Arabia. Because a successful rebellion by the majority of suppressed Shi'a citizens of Bahrain might have modified the government, Saudi troops entered Bahrain to help quell the rebellion and assure a friendly ruler at its eastern border. Looking westward, the Saudi air force has bombed Yemen and caused many casualties in order to cripple the successful Houthi rebellion and restore power to former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a good Saudi friend. Is there a more blatant double standard than U.S. attitude toward Saudi interventions and Russian interventions?
Using force to halt Russia's counter offensive to NATO advances is not likely; Russia has the advantage in that strategy. Sanctions are all that is left in NATO's tool kit and that will only manufacture new alliances. Geographic Europe stops at the Ural Mountains with a Siberian extension that can consider the continent ranging from Lisbon to Vladivostok. With sanctions, Europe is being remapped to stop at Russia's western border, while creating a new Asia that ranges from Shanghai to St. Petersburg. The barrier has a new fabric and a Silk Curtain is descending across the European continent.
"Misreading the Tea Leaves: US Missteps on Foreign Policy"
The Boston Globe ---- October 5, 2006
Author: Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Dubai Initiative
This op-ed was reprinted in the International Herald Tribune as "In the White House, Blunder after Blunder" on October 6, 2006.
WHEN YOU think that US foreign policy couldn't possibly get worse, the Bush administration manages to take it down another notch. Iraq is a debacle; the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan; and Osama bin Laden is still at large. North Korea has become a nuclear weapons state and Iran's nuclear ambitions remain unchecked. The quixotic campaign to "transform" the Middle East has fueled several violent conflicts and empowered Islamic extremists in Iraq, Iran, the Palestinian Authority, and Lebanon.
This disastrous record is not just a run of bad luck. These setbacks occurred because the Bush administration's foreign policy rests on a deep misreading of contemporary world politics. Conducting foreign policy on the basis of flawed premises is like designing an airplane while ignoring gravity: it won't get off the ground, and if it does, it is bound to crash.
What did the administration get so wrong?
First, officials misunderstood how other states see US primacy. Convinced that American power was a force for good, Bush thought other states would welcome US leadership as long as he acted decisively. In fact, US primacy made even longstanding allies nervous because they didn't know whether America would use its vast power in ways that would help or harm them.
This underlying fear of US primacy made it harder to win international support than the Bush team expected. Instead of nurturing these delicate relationships with effective diplomacy, however, Bush emphasized a US willingness to "go it alone." This blunder merely reinforced other states' concerns and made them even more reluctant to cooperate.
A second mistake was blaming anti-Americanism on "what we are" rather than "what we do." Bush says our enemies "hate our freedom" and believes that anti-Americanism arises from "hostility to core US values." Wrong again.
Independent surveys of global opinion and separate studies by the Defense Science Board and the State Department showed that anti-Americanism is primarily a reaction to specific US policies. Yet Bush and his advisers never considered whether a different set of policies might reduce global opposition and enhance US security.
Third, Bush has consistently underestimated America's opponents, believing that they were too weak to stand up to the world's only superpower. Unfortunately, the past five years have demonstrated that even much weaker actors have many ways to counter US power.
Insurgents and terrorists have used suicide bombings and other brutal tactics to thwart us in Iraq and Afghanistan. States we have threatened — such as Iran and Syria — respond by helping one another and by backing such organizations as Hezbollah. North Korea and Iran pursue a nuclear deterrent, and threatening them makes them want one even more.
Because they exaggerate US power and do not understand that even weak actors have options, the Bush team tends to dictate rather than negotiate. Instead of trying to fix such flawed agreements as the Kyoto Protocol, Bush walked away. He refused to talk seriously to North Korea until it was recycling nuclear material, and he repeated this error in 2003 when he spurned an Iranian overture that might have halted Iran's nuclear program and prevented the election of hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
By contrast, Bush's main successes have occurred when he abandoned the usual playbook and showed some flexibility. For example, Libya agreed to dismantle its WMD programs in 2003, but only because Bush agreed to abandon "regime change" and leave Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy in power. But the obvious lesson from this encounter has not been applied elsewhere.
Finally, Bush assumed the desire for freedom and liberty was hardwired into our DNA, and that expulsion of a dictator would quickly produce a thriving democracy. He forgot that nobody likes taking orders from armed invaders. And he did not realize that local loyalties and historical resentments routinely derail democratic aspirations.
Fixing our foreign policy would not be that difficult because many states would welcome more enlightened US leadership. To do it, however, Bush will have to ask for a few overdue resignations (such as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld). He will also have to abandon the core beliefs that have guided his entire foreign policy. Bush has thus far shown little capacity to learn from experience, and he continues to maintain that we are on the right course. Americans had better get used to a failed foreign policy, at least until 2008.
Stephen M. Walt is a professor of international affairs at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and author of "Taming American Power: The Global Response to US Primacy."
al-Qaeda is 'our enemy' but we're fighting against Syria along side of al-Qaeda so, in a sense of 'confusion' we supply weapons to al-Qaeda...
CIA classified review: Covertly arming insurgents doesn’t work
Arming insurgencies around the world has rarely worked for the CIA without direct support from Americans on the ground, according to a still-classified agency review of the practice conducted during debate over arming rebels in Syria.
The review, according to The New York Times, was one of many Central Intelligence Agency studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 as the Obama administration considered how to counter Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces amid the nation’s civil war.
From aiding contra rebels against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government to the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba that ended in disaster, the study concluded that many attempts the spy agency has made in its 67-year history to covertly arm foreign fighters have had little success in effectively turning the outcome of a conflict, especially when there is no American ground support involved.
The study was eventually presented to the White House, where it fueled skepticism among President Barack Obama and top advisers regarding whether to arm scattered rebel groups in Syria.
“One of the things that Obama wanted to know was: Did this ever work?” a former senior Obama administration official involved in the debate told the New York Times. The report, he said, “was pretty dour in its conclusions.”
President Obama made a brief reference to the CIA review earlier this year in an interview with The New Yorker, where he defended his administration against accusations that action taken to arm rebels did not happen fast enough. These allegations have been repeated since then by the likes of Obama’s former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Very early in this process, I actually asked the CIA to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come up with much,” he said.
In the summer of 2012, the administration rejected a plan to arm and train rebel fighters in Jordan. The plan, developed by then-director of the CIA David Petraeus, was eventually reworked. Once it was alleged that President Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons against opposition fighters and civilians, Obama signed a secret order allowing the CIA to train and arm rebels in the conflict.
To this day, the Obama administration has declared rebels they have assisted are so-called “moderates” among such Islamist, Al-Qaeda-associated groups as Nusra Front and the group now known as Islamic State. The latter is the current target of US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to counter the group’s spreading influence in the region.
As the focus of its ire recently shifted from Assad’s Syrian forces to Islamic State, the Obama administration authorized the Pentagon to begin training as many as 5,000 “vetted” rebels per year in Saudi Arabia. The program, though, needs more thorough planning before it begins, the US Department of Defense’s spokesman said last week.
“This is going to be a long-term effort,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby.
The CIA’s review, according to former American officials familiar with its contents, found that the agency has a dismal record when it comes to boosting insurgencies without ground assistance, as is the case right now in the fight against Islamic State. Those efforts include instances like the Bay of Pigs, where the CIA chose to fight proxy wars against the Soviet Union, or to combat Leftists governments, such as the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
The only instance the review found where an insurgency was successfully armed and trained by the CIA without the help of American ground forces was in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when mujahedeen fighters were assisted against occupying Soviet forces. The covert war there led to the eventual military withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989. The CIA review also found that the mujahedeen effort received a boost from Pakistani intelligence officers working on the ground with rebels.
Yet looking back, aiding mujahedeen fighters was not a clear-cut victory for the US, as their defeat of Soviet forces eventually led to the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, which gave sanctuary to Al-Qaeda in the run-up to their attacks on US territories on Sept. 11, 2001.
“What came afterwards was impossible to eliminate from anyone’s imagination,” said a former senior official about the early debates among Obama administration officials surrounding the arming of Syrian rebels.
Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.
By C. J. CHIVERS and ERIC SCHMITT
MARCH 24, 2013
With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.
The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.
As it evolved, the airlift correlated with shifts in the war within Syria, as rebels drove Syria’s army from territory by the middle of last year. And even as the Obama administration has publicly refused to give more than “nonlethal” aid to the rebels, the involvement of the C.I.A. in the arms shipments — albeit mostly in a consultative role, American officials say — has shown that the United States is more willing to help its Arab allies support the lethal side of the civil war.
From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. The C.I.A. declined to comment on the shipments or its role in them.
The shipments also highlight the competition for Syria’s future between Sunni Muslim states and Iran, the Shiite theocracy that remains Mr. Assad’s main ally. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraq on Sunday to do more to halt Iranian arms shipments through its airspace; he did so even as the most recent military cargo flight from Qatar for the rebels landed at Esenboga early Sunday night.
Syrian opposition figures and some American lawmakers and officials have argued that Russian and Iranian arms shipments to support Mr. Assad’s government have made arming the rebels more necessary.
Most of the cargo flights have occurred since November, after the presidential election in the United States and as the Turkish and Arab governments grew more frustrated by the rebels’ slow progress against Mr. Assad’s well-equipped military. The flights also became more frequent as the humanitarian crisis inside Syria deepened in the winter and cascades of refugees crossed into neighboring countries.
The Turkish government has had oversight over much of the program, down to affixing transponders to trucks ferrying the military goods through Turkey so it might monitor shipments as they move by land into Syria, officials said. The scale of shipments was very large, according to officials familiar with the pipeline and to an arms-trafficking investigator who assembled data on the cargo planes involved.
“A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment,” said Hugh Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, who monitors illicit arms transfers.
“The intensity and frequency of these flights,” he added, are “suggestive of a well-planned and coordinated clandestine military logistics operation.”
Although rebel commanders and the data indicate that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been shipping military materials via Turkey to the opposition since early and late 2012, respectively, a major hurdle was removed late last fall after the Turkish government agreed to allow the pace of air shipments to accelerate, officials said.
Simultaneously, arms and equipment were being purchased by Saudi Arabia in Croatia and flown to Jordan on Jordanian cargo planes for rebels working in southern Syria and for retransfer to Turkey for rebels groups operating from there, several officials said.
These multiple logistics streams throughout the winter formed what one former American official who was briefed on the program called “a cataract of weaponry.”
American officials, rebel commanders and a Turkish opposition politician have described the Arab roles as an open secret, but have also said the program is freighted with risk, including the possibility of drawing Turkey or Jordan actively into the war and of provoking military action by Iran.
Still, rebel commanders have criticized the shipments as insufficient, saying the quantities of weapons they receive are too small and the types too light to fight Mr. Assad’s military effectively. They also accused those distributing the weapons of being parsimonious or corrupt.
“The outside countries give us weapons and bullets little by little,” said Abdel Rahman Ayachi, a commander in Soquor al-Sham, an Islamist fighting group in northern Syria.
He made a gesture as if switching on and off a tap. “They open and they close the way to the bullets like water,” he said.
Two other commanders, Hassan Aboud of Soquor al-Sham and Abu Ayman of Ahrar al-Sham, another Islamist group, said that whoever was vetting which groups receive the weapons was doing an inadequate job.
“There are fake Free Syrian Army brigades claiming to be revolutionaries, and when they get the weapons they sell them in trade,” Mr. Aboud said.
The former American official noted that the size of the shipments and the degree of distributions are voluminous.
“People hear the amounts flowing in, and it is huge,” he said. “But they burn through a million rounds of ammo in two weeks.”
A Tentative Start
The airlift to Syrian rebels began slowly. On Jan. 3, 2012, months after the crackdown by the Alawite-led government against antigovernment demonstrators had morphed into a military campaign, a pair of Qatar Emiri Air Force C-130 transport aircraft touched down in Istanbul, according to air traffic data.
They were a vanguard.
Weeks later, the Syrian Army besieged Homs, Syria’s third largest city. Artillery and tanks pounded neighborhoods. Ground forces moved in.
Across the country, the army and loyalist militias were trying to stamp out the rebellion with force — further infuriating Syria’s Sunni Arab majority, which was severely outgunned. The rebels called for international help, and more weapons.
By late midspring the first stream of cargo flights from an Arab state began, according to air traffic data and information from plane spotters.
On a string of nights from April 26 through May 4, a Qatari Air Force C-17 — a huge American-made cargo plane — made six landings in Turkey, at Esenboga Airport. By Aug. 8 the Qataris had made 14 more cargo flights. All came from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, a hub for American military logistics in the Middle East.
Qatar has denied providing any arms to the rebels. A Qatari official, who requested anonymity, said Qatar has shipped in only what he called nonlethal aid. He declined to answer further questions. It is not clear whether Qatar has purchased and supplied the arms alone or is also providing air transportation service for other donors. But American and other Western officials, and rebel commanders, have said Qatar has been an active arms supplier — so much so that the United States became concerned about some of the Islamist groups that Qatar has armed.
The Qatari flights aligned with the tide-turning military campaign by rebel forces in the northern province of Idlib, as their campaign of ambushes, roadside bombs and attacks on isolated outposts began driving Mr. Assad’s military and supporting militias from parts of the countryside.
As flights continued into the summer, the rebels also opened an offensive in that city — a battle that soon bogged down.
The former American official said David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director until November, had been instrumental in helping to get this aviation network moving and had prodded various countries to work together on it. Mr. Petraeus did not return multiple e-mails asking for comment.
The American government became involved, the former American official said, in part because there was a sense that other states would arm the rebels anyhow. The C.I.A. role in facilitating the shipments, he said, gave the United States a degree of influence over the process, including trying to steer weapons away from Islamist groups and persuading donors to withhold portable antiaircraft missiles that might be used in future terrorist attacks on civilian aircraft.
American officials have confirmed that senior White House officials were regularly briefed on the shipments. “These countries were going to do it one way or another,” the former official said. “They weren’t asking for a ‘Mother, may I?’ from us. But if we could help them in certain ways, they’d appreciate that.”
Now this is only my own hypothesis so I could certainly be totally wrong but I think that US policy is to fracture the Middle East into as...
There is no mystery: These are Al-Qaida the same exact people who staged the 9/11 attacks; The same people who killed ambassador Christopher...
It’s true that American arms and aid ended up in the hands of extremists like Taliban and Al-Qaida in the past and still is, Yes. Could you...
Through the fall, the Qatari Air Force cargo fleet became even more busy, running flights almost every other day in October. But the rebels were clamoring for even more weapons, continuing to assert that they lacked the firepower to fight a military armed with tanks, artillery, multiple rocket launchers and aircraft.
Many were also complaining, saying they were hearing from arms donors that the Obama administration was limiting their supplies and blocking the distribution of the antiaircraft and anti-armor weapons they most sought. These complaints continue.
“Arming or not arming, lethal or nonlethal — it all depends on what America says,” said Mohammed Abu Ahmed, who leads a band of anti-Assad fighters in Idlib Province.
Soon, other players joined the airlift: In November, three Royal Jordanian Air Force C-130s landed in Esenboga, in a hint at what would become a stepped-up Jordanian and Saudi role.
Within three weeks, two other Jordanian cargo planes began making a round-trip run between Amman, the capital of Jordan, and Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, where, officials from several countries said, the aircraft were picking up a large Saudi purchase of infantry arms from a Croatian-controlled stockpile.
The first flight returned to Amman on Dec. 15, according to intercepts of a transponder from one of the aircraft recorded by a plane spotter in Cyprus and air traffic control data from an aviation official in the region.
In all, records show that two Jordanian Ilyushins bearing the logo of the Jordanian International Air Cargo firm but flying under Jordanian military call signs made a combined 36 round-trip flights between Amman and Croatia from December through February. The same two planes made five flights between Amman and Turkey this January.
As the Jordanian flights were under way, the Qatari flights continued and the Royal Saudi Air Force began a busy schedule, too — making at least 30 C-130 flights into Esenboga from mid-February to early March this year, according to flight data provided by a regional air traffic control official.
Several of the Saudi flights were spotted coming and going at Ankara by civilians, who alerted opposition politicians in Turkey.
“The use of Turkish airspace at such a critical time, with the conflict in Syria across our borders, and by foreign planes from countries that are known to be central to the conflict, defines Turkey as a party in the conflict,” said Attilla Kart, a member of the Turkish Parliament from the C.H.P. opposition party, who confirmed details about several Saudi shipments. “The government has the responsibility to respond to these claims.”
Turkish and Saudi Arabian officials declined to discuss the flights or any arms transfers. The Turkish government has not officially approved military aid to Syrian rebels.
Croatia and Jordan both denied any role in moving arms to the Syrian rebels. Jordanian aviation officials went so far as to insist that no cargo flights occurred.
The director of cargo for Jordanian International Air Cargo, Muhammad Jubour, insisted on March 7 that his firm had no knowledge of any flights to or from Croatia.
“This is all lies,” he said. “We never did any such thing.”
A regional air traffic official who has been researching the flights confirmed the flight data, and offered an explanation. “Jordanian International Air Cargo,” the official said, “is a front company for Jordan’s air force.”
After being informed of the air-traffic control and transponder data that showed the plane’s routes, Mr. Jubour, from the cargo company, claimed that his firm did not own any Ilyushin cargo planes.
Asked why his employer’s Web site still displayed images of two Ilyushin-76MFs and text claiming they were part of the company fleet, Mr. Jubour had no immediate reply. That night the company’s Web site was taken down.
Reporting was contributed by Robert F. Worth from Washington and Istanbul; Dan Bilefsky from Paris; and Sebnem Arsu from Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey.
United States foreign policy after World War II often failed to accomplish its objectives and behaved counterproductive.
Force replaced diplomacy. Military solutions trampled negotiations. Counter-insurgency produced insurgents. The U.S. identified anti-communism as its principal guide to foreign policy during the Cold War, but similar policies continued after the Soviet Union's collapse and disintegration. As the balance of terror receded, the United States confronted global terrorism, which obligated the unique world power to initiate a new war, the 'war against terrorism.' This war does not recede; it grows, and as it grows, it becomes connected to another war, 'the war against drugs.' In Afghanistan, the U.S. wages a war against the poppy fields, the same war the Soviets initially fought. In Mexico, a border war of drug violence exceeds the terrorist violence against America.
Incoherent behavior has the U.S. 'war on terrorism' serving to breed terrorism. Throughout the Arab world and parts of Islamic Africa, revolutions have encouraged Al Qaeda 'look-alikes.' The U.S. State Department officials seem to watch helplessly as sympathizers to Al Qaeda in Mali, Libya, Syria and Iraq gain strength and support, while the U.S. Defense department scrambles to react to inept foreign policies.
U.S. foreign policy in Europe during the Cold War has been considered successful. However, a comprehensive review of American foreign policy towards countries in other regions and in different eras, including post Cold War Europe, expose a consistent lack of statesmanship, ineffective methods of diplomacy and a disposition to use military force.Regarded as the winner of the Cold War, the U.S. has subsequently been involved in several hot wars, and been excluded from socio-economic blocs. An ever-enlarging European Union, a Latin America Mercosur, which is composed of more radical and less-friendly regimes to the U.S., and an Association of Southeast Asian nations plus three (ASEAN +China, Japan, South Korea), in which China is gaining a dominant role, are challenging U.S. political hegemony and economic leadership.
If the presentation appears one-sided, it is because U.S. administration policies have been one-sided and have exhibited patterns that caused international catastrophes. Interference in internal affairs of nations and direct American military involvement have not brought peace and stability to the world...
The proliferation of Socialist and anti-American governments throughout South America certifies a U.S. weakness and portends an inability of the American government and military to exert control over South American affairs. The failure to adopt the U.S. sponsored Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) during a 34-country summit in Mar del Plata, November 2005, indicated that the momentum is towards complete independence from U.S. domination.
The South American free trade market, termed Mercosur, which included Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay expanded to include Venezuela in July 2012. During the Latin American trade bloc's 47th summit in Argentina,.Bolivia received acceptance as a member, but Paraguay continued to object to Bolivia's formal entry.The meeting presented the European Union (EU) with an offer to negotiate an eventual trade deal between the two regions.However, agricultural issues remain one of the major obstacles to any treaty. Kinga Brudzinska, an analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs sense that, "EU member states are anxious to give access to their markets to agricultural products from South America, such as beef, sugar, milk, and cereals. They are afraid that an expected increase in imports will hurt domestic producers. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Mercosur countries are blocking any progress on opening the auto industry and public procurements to the EU, as long as there is no progress on the agricultural front, leading to an impasse."
An economically strong Brazil, whose economy slowed greatly in 2014 while prices escalated, showed the way to economic success; despite economic lapses, an oil rich Venezuela led the charge against U.S. domination; and a newly directed Argentina displayed what could be done when not tied to the dollar and also how to use intellectual oratory to influence populations until its budget hit a wall and resulted in 25% inflation and a huge drop in its currency. The U.S. can still hope and expect that many of the governments will fail in their social and economic endeavors and U.S. capital and advice will still be needed. However, that expectation has a significant impediment - the entry of China into South American affairs.
The year 2014 showed that China breathes strongly in South America.
The Asian nation is only in an early stage of replacing the United States as a force, but it exhibits an advantage. The Chinese government has neither interest in its partners' politics nor their ideologies. It only wants to trade raw materials for its basic manufactured goods. The Chinese can supply manpower and knowledge for building infrastructure but it is reluctant and limited in furnishing capital. The United States operates with strings--it wants assurance of friendly politics and is often concerned with a nation's ideology, but can supply huge amounts of capital and technology for creating infrastructure. Neither nation seems to be making advances in investment or influence in the South American economies; one reason being is there is a new dealer - Iran. The Islamic nation has been making deals with Venezuela and Bolivia in developments of hydrocarbons.
Will the U.S. realize the counter-productive aspect of its policies towards South America?
The United States has a new role with South America nations that are growing and expanding their trade. The U.S. needs Latin American raw materials and Latin America needs U.S. capital and high technology goods. If South American leaders want to establish a regional order that guarantees sovereignty and buffers them from being continually disrupted by U.S. old world disorder, the U.S. can assist in this realization and greatly profit from it. Failure to recognize and take advantage of the changing winds of South America is a sure path to U.S. economic decay.
Viewed totally and over decades, U.S. foreign policy has not exhibited diplomacy. The policies almost always degenerated into military ventures and failed to accomplish political objectives. It seems incredible, but it can be shown that since the end of World War II, U.S. interventions throughout the world resulted in the deaths of more than two million persons apart from the claims of 100,000 to 600,000 deaths and several million internal and external refugees in Iraq. Add the wounded, maimed many more, dislocations, uprooted masses of persons and destroyed infrastructures and economies. The American people have sent their children to die in several fruitless interventions that served no beneficial purposes. Wars have intensified with concurrent actions of rebellions, terrorism, arms dealing and drugs. As NATO troops occupied Afghanistan, opium crops expanded. South of the U.S. border, Mexico gangs violently fight one another for control of cocaine shipments to their Northern neighbor. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has become an international syndicate. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, the DEA opened new bureaus in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and three Mexican cities to counter "an expanding nexus between drugs and terrorism."
The Cold War served as an excuse for many illegitimate policies. Interventions did not resolve Cold War issues and usually resulted in attacks on powerless countries. Similar provocations occurred after the end of the Cold War. It's unfortunate that the American people have been unable to fulfill their responsibility and prevent the disasters its government has caused. U.S. foreign policies have had a habit of going full circle - the adversary conditions they intended to change have often returned. As originally predicted in an earlier exposition of this article, the explosive weapons used to quell the adversary have returned to explode at the original place of manufacture.
NY Times performs for the State Dept. "Vladimir Putin
Hides the Truth"
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
JUNE 2, 2015
For President Vladimir Putin of Russia, the manipulation and suppression of facts is as much a tool of his war in Ukraine as an AK-47 or a rocket launcher. He continues to insist that Russian soldiers and weapons are not involved in the conflict in the eastern sector of the country, despite evidence to the contrary from NATO, the United States and independent journalists.
Last week Mr. Putin added a new and especially cruel twist to his formula of deception by decreeing that the deaths or wounds of Russian soldiers in “special operations” can be classified as military secrets, even in peacetime. In the past, the list of state secrets applied only to personnel losses in wartime.
The decree furthers a climate of propaganda and secrecy that was well established during Soviet times and that Mr. Putin has worked hard to revive. It could lead to the arrest of journalists and human rights activists who gather and publicize information about soldiers’ deaths, further restricting the open flow of essential information.
On a personal level, the decree is especially heartless because it could make it even more difficult for loved ones to obtain the facts about their soldiers’ deaths or injuries, which grieving families need to understand the circumstances of the casualties. Government critics also charge that Russia’s refusal to acknowledge that its soldiers are in combat denies them disability payments and their relatives death benefits and other awards.
Mr. Putin clearly fears a political backlash from Russians who could turn against him and his destructive policies if they learn the truth about Ukraine. Public opinion polls have largely shown that Russian support for Mr. Putin is high and many Russians don’t believe their military forces are involved in Ukraine.
What the Assault on Whistleblowers Has to do With War on Syria
from: Nation of Change
Without whistleblowers, the mainline media outlets are more transfixed than ever with telling the official story. And at a time like this, the official story is all about spinning for war on Syria.
Every president who wants to launch another war can’t abide whistleblowers. They might interfere with the careful omissions, distortions and outright lies of war propaganda, which requires that truth be held in a kind of preventative detention.
By mid-week, media adrenalin was at fever pitch as news reports cited high-level sources explaining when the U.S. missile attacks on Syria were likely to begin, how long they might last, what their goals would be. But what about other (potential) sources who have documents and other information that contradict the official story?
It’s never easy for whistleblowers to take the risk of exposing secret realities. At times like these, it’s especially difficult -- and especially vital -- for whistleblowers to take the chance.
When independent journalist I.F. Stone said “All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed,” he was warning against the automatic acceptance of any government claim. That warning becomes most crucial when a launch of war is imminent. That’s when, more than ever, we need whistleblowers who can leak information that refutes the official line.
There has been a pernicious method to the madness of the Obama administration’s double-barreled assault on whistleblowers and journalism. Committed to a state of ongoing war, Obama has overseen more prosecutions of whistleblowers than all other presidents combined -- while also subjecting journalists to ramped-up surveillance and threats, whether grabbing the call records of 20 telephone lines of The Associated Press or pushing to imprison New York Times reporter James Risen for not revealing a source.
The vengeful treatment of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, the all-out effort to grab Edward Snowden and less-publicized prosecutions such as the vendetta against NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake are all part of a government strategy that aims to shut down unauthorized pipelines of information to journalists -- and therefore to the public. When secret information is blocked, what’s left is the official story, pulling out all the stops for war.
From the false Tonkin Gulf narrative in 1964 that boosted the Vietnam War to the fabricated baby-incubators-in-Kuwait tale in 1990 that helped launch the Gulf War to the reports of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction early in this century, countless deaths and unfathomable suffering have resulted from the failure of potential whistleblowers to step forward in a timely and forthright way -- and the failure of journalists to challenge falsehoods in high government places.
There are no “good old days” to point to, no eras when an abundance of whistleblowers and gutsy reporters thoroughly alerted the public and subdued the power of Washington’s war-makers. But we’re now living in a notably -- and tragically -- fearful era. Potential whistleblowers have more reason to be frightened than ever, and mainline journalists rarely seem willing to challenge addiction to war.
Every time a president has decided to go to war against yet another country, the momentum has been unstoppable. Today, the craven foreshadow the dead. The key problems, as usual, revolve around undue deference to authority -- obedience in the interests of expediency -- resulting in a huge loss of lives and a tremendous waste of resources that should be going to sustain human life instead of destroying it.
With war at the top of Washington’s agenda, this is a time to make our voices heard. (To email your senators and representative, expressing opposition to an attack on Syria, click here.) A loud and sustained outcry against the war momentum is essential -- and so is support for whistleblowers.
As a practical matter, real journalism can’t function without whistleblowers. Democracy can’t function without real journalism. And we can’t stop the warfare state without democracy. In the long run, the struggles for peace and democracy are one and the same.
of Various Subjects