Obama’s Pro-Assad Policy?

Robert Dreyfuss thinks Obama’s recently revealed policy of supporting Iraqi security forces through the CIA so they can fight al-Qaeda affiliates there and cut off the flow of fighters pouring into Syria is nonsensical. “We’re backing the same guys in Syria that we’re fighting in Iraq,” he says.

How is it that the administration is aiding the Syrian rebel fighters on one hand and fighting them on the other?

Obama troubledIt’s true that Obama has sent non-lethal aid to the rebels, despite the fact that the great bulk of the fighters who actually matter are jihadists. It’s also true that Obama has made it a policy to coordinate the flow of weapons to these groups from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, and that the so-called “vetting process” meant to direct the aid only to moderate elements of the oppositions is, to put it mildly, ineffective (at least according to US intelligence officials).

But the truth is, Obama has ruled out sending decisive aid, lethal or non-lethal, to Syria’s rebels even in the face of claims that up to 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict. Obama reportedly overruled the suggestions of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey – all of whom advocated arming the rebels. Instead, Obama made policy moves like designating the al-Qaeda in Iraq offshoot in Syria a terrorist organization and pressuring Saudi Arabia not to send heavier arms like anti-aircraft weapons.

The limited aid the US has sent to the Syrian rebels, while totally unacceptable in my opinion, is primarily a pittance for public consumption so that Obama gets to display his disapproval for the Assad regime’s violence. From the beginning, Obama has articulated a desire to avoid getting involved in another quagmire in Syria and avoid bolstering potentially dangerous rebels with links to al-Qaeda. In this sense, the policy of aiding Iraq’s state militias to crack down on the Islamists coming over the border to fight in Syria – while dangerous – is not so illogical.

The strange thing here is that the CIA’s cooperation with Maliki, a Shiite ally of Assad, to crack down on Sunni Islamists fighting to topple the regime in Syria seems conspicuously like a pro-Assad policy – or at least not an anti-Assad policy.

When I posed this paradox to former CIA intelligence officer and Antiwar.com columnist Phil Giraldi, he concurred.

“I think you are right that Obama has come around to the view that regime change is more fraught with dangers than letting Assad remain,” Giraldi said.

As to the logistics of the CIA’s battle against anti-Assad Islamists in Iraq, “how exactly” this will be accomplished “escapes me,” Giraldi explained.

“Also the border is very long and unpoliceable and located mostly in Sunni country so the whole exercise seems like a plan doomed to fail,” he added.

The Obama administration has had a wobbly position on Syria for a long time, and it should be roundly condemned for continuing to allow (and even encourage) its aforementioned allies to aid the fragmented and extremist Syrian rebel forces. And the newly revealed policy of backing Iraqi militias as they do battle – although it could just be an effort to clear the way for increased aid to Syria’s “moderate” opposition – will almost surely backfire.

But as the State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said back in January, even as the US supports the Syrian opposition in some abstract way, it is of utmost importance to “maintain the functions of the state.” Syria may have been floated as a target for regime change by the Bush administration’s most fanciful neoconservatives, but Obama sees the chaos of Sunni jihadists taking control of Syria as a much worse outcome than Assad sticking around a while longer.

4 thoughts on “Obama’s Pro-Assad Policy?”

  1. It is perfectly true this has been described as a "Brain Dead policy" in America of using Jihadists in Syria (and Libya) but fighting them in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The "Syrian rebel forces" ARE Jihadists of various sorts and organised in the first place, long before the Color Revolution attempt of March 2011.

    But hte policymakers don't apparantly see this as incompatible, continuing to fight "Their Jihadists" who went rogue and went of the reservation.

  2. It is a Covert Operation or Black Op, and a return to the classical Covert op. with the use of Cut-outs to supply arms, funding and train the para-militaries.

    So Obama is very anxious to maintain Plausible Deniability, as it is known, with no paper trail back to himself.
    Otherwise the demonstators will be marching.

    And particularly not after Iraq and Afghanistan.

    But it will have gone out on his sign-off – there will be a "Finding" document authorising the operation.

    Also he is still committed to overthrow the Syrian government and install an American one, without addrssing how the Jihadist problem is to be overcome, if only because the Rregime-Change industry" is now vast and a powerful lobby in its own right.

    1. well you've got to look at his position with the Democratic Party. He ticked the boxes and made nice speechs and has done a great job at deflecting and supressing flak, much to the republican dismay, where as Hilary would have been unelected at the last election because of it Hilary's way or the highway attitude
      But he doesn't have a lot of pull in the party, with is still run by the Clintons. Barry doesn't want to be the democratic George W Bush, who is still in hiding basically. with his legacy in tatters but he isn't powerful to tell the war party in his own ranks to the a walk so we get this falling between two stools

  3. It's essentially a fight between Shiite (Syrian) / Sunni Muslims (rebel) with the Kurds from Turkey (although this alignment seems tenuous at best). Of course Obama doesn't want to get involved militarily. There are already many Middle Eastern countries that are involved in the war already like Iran's revolutionary guards, Palestinian Hezbollah, and Saudis fighting on the side of the rebels. What good does it do for Obama to step into this obvious Middle East engulfment. They'll end up angering Russia and Shitte dominated countries.

  4. Yeh right…, like what he said.., I am going to close Guantanamo.., like he said.., I am going to end the Afghanistan war…, like he said.., I am going to finish the Iraq war.., he is been playing everyone acting undercover or over cover and no cover at all.., non of his words or said should have any meaning nor be trusted.., in last four years or so…,he is been dividing more of people to a point where Arabs killing Arabs and supporting terrorism is the tool in dividing people in other part of the world.., and by mimicking Dr. Martin Luther king and sometimes Malcolm X at home. So he is playing a messy and dirty game with everyone.., why…, he reserves the right to kill you if you ask the question.

  5. If Obama recognizes that Assad is a man to who one can talk, then the conflict might be settled on the negotiation table. Unfortunately the Israelis are so stupid and paranoid with their Iran fear that they prevent reasonable people to act.
    If Assad is toppled then Israel will have to fight a totally new war against jihadist enemies who will not stop until their goal is achieved no matter the casualties and the price they will pay.
    It is illusional to think that if only Arabs kill each other this is also good for the jewish state.

  6. You wrote: "It is illusional to think that if only Arabs kill each other this is also good for the jewish state." Heck, it's the whole point: create havoc with colored revolutions! Encourage rebels to attack their own governments. Use sanctions to create hardships. Is this not exactly what has been happening in the Middle-East and North Africa? Is it only an accident that these countries happen to be located around Israel? Who else profits from all this mayhem?

  7. Here's the deal: http://www.voltairenet.org/article175097.html
    "In discussing the Syrian crisis, the President of Russia noted the need to rapidly bring an end to hostilities. The leaders instructed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry to continue active contacts and to focus on developing possible new initiatives aimed at a political settlement of the crisis.'
    And also: http://www.voltairenet.org/article177546.html

  8. Take another hit on your crackpipe… don't help them insert drones into Syria on false pretense of fighting 'elements' of the terrorists they sent in, absurd. The ruling elite celebrate the most savage terrorists who engage in horrific acts against civilians because they hate us and will be coming to a town near you soon.

  9. The limited aid the US has sent to the Syrian rebels, while totally unacceptable in my opinion, is primarily a pittance for public consumption so that Obama gets to display his disapproval for the Assad regime’s violence.

  10. The limited aid the US has sent to the Syrian rebels, while totally unacceptable in my opinion, is primarily a pittance for public consumption so that Obama gets to display his disapproval for the Assad regimea??s violence.

  11. When will people wake up and realize that they are only being used as means to fight different ideologies and their scarifies and contributions mean nothing to any party. This approach of supporting and then fighting policy is the one that actually gave rise to the terrorism in this world.

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