I noted yesterday's article in the Times, but it is behind a paywall. Meanwhile al-Jazeera has put out a directive not to describe the al-Nusra terrorists as al-Qaeda.
Syria: The End Of The "Vetted Rebels" Scam
22 September, 2015
This was reported yesterday in the London Times. But for some curious reason no major U.S. media picked it up:
A US attempt to relaunch its much-criticised rebel training programme faced a setback yesterday when a second batch of western-trained fighters were detained by other rebel groups in northern Syria.
About 70 fighters from the US-trained group, called the 30th Division, entered the Bab al-Salama border crossing north of Aleppo in a heavily armed convoy of 12 vehicles with US air cover, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Pentagon vetted group was allegedly detained by some Turkmen group which is sponsored by Turkey. More crazy rumors about the fate of the group followed throughout yesterday but the situation has now cleared up. The very carefully vetted and selected Pentagon trained group was not detained, itchanged sides within minutes of being injected into Syria:
Pentagon-trained rebels are reported to have betrayed US and handed weapons over to an al-Qaeda affiliate immediately after entering Syria.
Fighters with Division 30 surrendered and handed over "all its weapons" to Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, sources alleged on Monday.
"A strong slap [in the face] for America... the new group from Division 30 that entered yesterday hands over all of its weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra after being granted safe passage," tweeted Abu Fahd al-Tunisi, who purports to be a member of the al-Qaeda affiliate.
[Obama's Islamic State War Czar General Allen just got fired - probably over the incident above. He was the genius who gave a free hand to Turkey to bomb the Kurds in exchange for access to the Incirlik air base in Turkey. (Could the ever failing disgraced General Petraeus replace him?)]
The leader of the U.S. trained, paid and equipped group published six reason (Arabic) why he changed sides.
But according to some rather weird Washington Post piece the administration is already thinking about a new strategy which would replace the failed idea of inserting "well vetted" fighters:
The administration is considering providing arms and ammunition to a wider array of rebel groups in Syria and relaxing vetting standards, effectively deepening America’s involvement in the ongoing civil war.
So as the "vetted" rebels change over to Al-Qaeda the remedy is to use less vetting.
But less or no vetting was used all along with the CIA paying, training and equipping 10,000+ anti-Syrian fighters since early 2012. Most of those fighters have, like the Pentagon trained group, sold their weapons and ammunition to Jihadis or even joined them. Vetting is obviously not necessary at all. An AP piece on 14 Syrian civilians killed by rebel shelling yesterday remarks:
The rebel coalition, known as the Army of Conquest alliance, includes Syria's al-Qaida branch, the Nusra Front, and the extremist Jund al-Aqsa group, and is backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
A Reuters piece that attempts to polish the Salafist Jihadis of Ahrar al-Shams notes:
With strong backing from Syria's neighbor Turkey, Ahrar al-Sham (the Free Men of Syria) is playing a significant role in Syria's four year old civil war - if not the biggest among insurgent group apart from Islamic State.
Under its new leadership it is trying to differentiate itself from al Qaeda, angering the Nusra Front and other hardliners. But its al Qaeda-linked background means Ahrar al-Sham still has a special relationship with the Nusra Front.
Rebels inside Syria say Ahrar al-Sham supplied many of Nusra's weapons. It was not clear if it was still doing so.
A former Nusra fighter who has now left the war said Nusra and Ahrar once had strong relations.
"All I know is that Nusra sees Ahrar as their source for weapons, especially in some battles," he said.
The Pentagon carefully "vetted" the few mercenaries it send into Syria and they promptly went to Nusra. It sure would not fail to also "vet" Ahrar als-Shams and come away with a similar positive judgement. The whole "vetted rebels" nonsense is obviously a scam as the U.S. and its allies never stopped supplying the not "vetted" Islamists who fight against the secular Syrian state.
But Ahrar's best days may soon be over. It is currently pampered by and supplied through Turkey but tomorrow the Turkish President Erdogan is supposed to meet the Russian president Putin.
Putin just deployed a considerable amount of equipment and personal to Syria to snuff out the Islamists. The numbers may well grow and end up as a fully equipped expeditionary corps with some 15,000 soldiers. Russia is allied with Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hizbullah as the "4+1" alliance and will coordinate the fight through a common headquarter. Russian reconnaissance is all over the Syrian battlefield and its results, as well as new weapons, already help the Syrian government to successfully attack Islamic State concentrations killing dozens of fighters in Raqqa and Palmyra.
Turkey depends on Russian gas for some 30+% of its primary energy needs. Erdogan has great plans for Turkey to become a bigger energy hub by taking part in a new Russian gas pipeline. But gas will only continue to reliably flow through Russian pipelines if the Turkish weapon pipeline to the Islamic State, Ahrar al Shams and Jabhat al-Nusra closes. Erdogan will have to choose which pipeline better fits his interests.
Should Erdogan decide to continue the supply to the Islamists Russia decided to fight he will put his country into a very dangerous position. Russia could, for example, secretly supply those Kurds who fight the Turkish state in east Turkey.
How successful could they be with an endless supply of modern Russian weapons?
I suspect that Erdogan's game is over. Russia decided to end the war the U.S. and its allies are waging against Syria. It will use all the tools of a great nation to support its positions. "Western" installed no-fly zones or protected opposition areas within Syria are now mere pipe-dreams. The genius Petraeus, who started the CIA mercenary program that supplied Nusra and the Islamic State, just again demandedsuch and other nonsense:
“We could, for example, tell Assad that the use of barrel bombs must end. And that if they continue, we will stop the Syrian Air Force from flying,” he said. “We have that capability.”
The U.S. "has that capability" only if it wants many of its own pilots killed. The country to decide over "no-fly zones" in Syria is Russia. The new S-300 and S-400 air defense systems now seen in Latakia make sure that nothing enters Syria's airspace without Russian(!) acquiescence.