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Many including myself had suspected that the US role was more than a spectator in the Syrian civil War. Now the White House is being open about the policy of providing covert assistance to Syrian Rebels (but not weapons) that was put into place earlier this year.

Obama authorizes secret support for Syrian rebels

By Mark Hosenball

Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding," broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.

This and other developments signal a shift toward growing, albeit still circumscribed, support for Assad's armed opponents - a shift that intensified following last month's failure of the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.

The White House is for now apparently stopping short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some U.S. allies do just that.

I'm happy to hear that the US is getting more strident in its support for the Syrian Rebels, strengthening the Administration's demand for Assad to step down. I just wish they would do more to hasten the demise of the Assad regime.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The sooner Assad leaves the better for Syrians (20+ / 0-)

    "We don't need someone who can think. We need someone with enough digits to hold a pen." ~ Grover Norquist

    by Lefty Coaster on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:52:31 PM PDT

  •  NYT's CJ Chivers on why Assad is "fucked" (8+ / 0-)

    Three little letters "I.E.D."

    This is where the I.E.D. fits in. Once the armed opposition mastered the I.E.D. and spiked with bombs much of the very ground that any military seeking to control Syria must cover, and Syria’s army lacked a deep bench of well-trained explosive ordnance disposal teams and the suites of electronic and defensive equipment for its vehicles to survive, then the end was written. Because the Syrian army is fucked. And its troop must know it.

    How important was the I.E.D. in all of this? It started with terrain denial, no-go roads and rising government casualties, which led to units spending more time on bases, which in turn allowed the uprising to grow and, to a degree, organize itself more fully. And then the direction shifted, to what is visible now. In a few quick months, the opposition went from being in a desperate military position to fighting in the center of Damascus while the world set an Assad-is-ousted countdown clock. That clock may or may not be premature; it remains to be seen whether the government will consolidate and stand after the events of this week. But even if it firms up, the army’s problem will still be the same. It cannot operate in a tactically meaningful way in much of its own country, it has no local Sunni proxy to take its place and it has no time to find one, the more so in a climate of Sunni anger. It can fight and it can kill; sure. But it cannot operate in a way that it gets stronger, and its foes get weaker. With I.E.D’s. in large-scale use against an army ill-equipped to counter them, the dynamic works the opposite way. And where can the army go? Considered in this war’s social and demographic context, with the Alawite-dominated military deployed in the midst of an armed and now bomb-savvy, Sunni-dominated population that loathes its government and has suffered terribly under its hand, there will almost certainly be a time, not too far off, when you will be referring to the Syrian army in the past tense.

    Follow Me on Twitter!!/ZeddRebel

    by TarantinoDork on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:08:43 PM PDT

  •  Please hold your breath (0+ / 0-)

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:09:40 PM PDT

  •  Be careful what you wish for. (7+ / 0-)

    Syria makes this number 3 of the 7 in 5 neo-con agenda.

    "Democracy is only real if we all participate" -- Bea Bookler, 94 year-old voter disenfranchised by Voter-ID

    by 8ackgr0und N015e on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:14:15 PM PDT

    •  Neocons expected to be welcomed with open arms (0+ / 0-)

      remember, but, you thought has value...

      "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

      by smiley7 on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:22:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're right, Assad should rule for 100 years. (5+ / 0-)

      All those Syrians protesting, striking, fighting, dying should just go home and be good little subjects all so a couple neocon douchebags can be proven wrong or something.

      Makes one wonder how Che Guevarra types would have reacted had the US abandoned support for Batista in 1953 or aided the fight against Franco in the 1930s.

      Follow Me on Twitter!!/ZeddRebel

      by TarantinoDork on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:22:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nice.."Assad should rule for 100 years" (4+ / 0-)

        First, many of the people fighting now are not fighting for a democracy and freedom, they just want a different controlling system.

        When this first started, the U.S. had the option of  supporting the people or supporting "U.S. interests".

        It chose "U.S. interests."

        Just like in Egypt.

        The Egyptian people wanted a democracy. Instead, they have a Muslim Brotherhood/Military leadership beholden to the U.S. and Qatar for survival. Many of Mubarak's people are still in power. The Egyptian people still have no say. I'm sure we will still give taxpayer money to the Egyptians to turn around and buy F-16s while we prop up the government to make sure it never fights a war.

        So the Syrian people rose up. Some for democracy, some for Islam. No one supported those for democracy. The ones for Islam got much help from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have a little HQ in Turkey to run the FSA. And people in the left in America still think this is some kind of 'people' support against a tyrant.

        We ditched the democracy people from day one because we needed Qatar and Saudi support to make sure Syria didn't actually have a democracy. Had the whole democracy thing taken hold, all our puppets in the Middle East would be gone.

        So far it has worked.

        More people know about the fake 'gay girl in damascus' than the people we support in Lebanon that have gone full bore against gays in Lebanon.

      •  Remember when Bush I encouraged the Kurds (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poco, Fire bad tree pretty

        to rise up against Saddam?  You really think he had their best interests  at heart?

        "Democracy is only real if we all participate" -- Bea Bookler, 94 year-old voter disenfranchised by Voter-ID

        by 8ackgr0und N015e on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:01:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well I was 5, but yes I do remember. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deep Texan, MKSinSA, Dr Swig Mcjigger

          And it was primarily the Shia that were encouraged to rise up.  We did a lot to help the Kurds and were successful in pushing Saddam out of the North, the Shia however got completely screwed over by Bush I.

          This is different.  These people in Syria are rising up for their own reasons.   But the continued atrocities by the Assad regime has brought us to this point.

          Whether these people get help from the outside world has little bearing on their determination to overthrow Assad.  They aren't doing it because Obama told them to, indeed for most of the last 17 months his position has been to try to PREVENT a wholesale uprising.

          They held protests demanding the kinds of change they saw in Egypt and Tunisia.  Instead they were met with snipers and artillery fire.  Soldiers that refused to join in the slaughter defected and started protecting the protesters.  THAT is how this started.  Don't ever try to gloss over that.

          I still do not believe a complete violent overthrow of the Assad regime a la Libya is desirable.  What I want to see is for Syria's institutions to decide Assad isn't worth it, and kick him & his clan out of the country to make way for a transitional government.  Burma/Myanmar would be a good long-term model going forward...but only after Assad has been dealt with.

          Follow Me on Twitter!!/ZeddRebel

          by TarantinoDork on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 09:20:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, you might want to double check that (0+ / 0-)

            They didn't push Saddam out of anywhere.  He slaughtered their asses.  He used poison gas bought from the US to kill thousands.   It was quite the propaganda bonanza. Bush, Jr. played it for all it was worth.

            And the Kurds -- well they never got control of Kirkuk, either.  Those oil fields deliver 500K barrels a day.   So be careful what you wish for.   The folks you think you are helping may wind up being sacrificed on the altar of expediency.  

            But the spice will flow.

            "Democracy is only real if we all participate" -- Bea Bookler, 94 year-old voter disenfranchised by Voter-ID

            by 8ackgr0und N015e on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 09:32:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You really need to get your dates straight. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Deep Texan, MKSinSA, Dr Swig Mcjigger

              Saddam's worst massacres against the Kurds, including the use of poison gas, occurred in the late 80s as part of the Iran-Iraq War.  When he was OUR dictator.  Long before Bush Daddy ever told the Iraqi people to rise up.

              When we did intervene on behalf of the Kurds between 1991-2003 we were indeed effective at keeping Saddam out of the North.  He had very little influence up there, not wanting to risk his troops against the Pechmerga without air support.

              The effectiveness of the Northern No Fly Zone is a major reason I was against the 2003 invasion.  Saddam was contained, presenting no immediate threat.

              Follow Me on Twitter!!/ZeddRebel

              by TarantinoDork on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 10:06:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Mistyped... Bush Jr, should have been SR. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                The reason he attacked was BECAUSE Kurds were fighting for autonomy.  The Iranians that took Halabja were Iranian Kurds.  The reason Kurds were fighting for autonomy and still do to this day is their tribal region spans national borders established by colonial powers after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.  

                Bush's call in 91 didn't come out of thin air.   There were extensive CIA ties in the area as part of ongoing operations, just like we have now based out of Incerlik in Turkey against Syria.

                The No Fly Zone -- that was more for our benefit than theirs.  They were generally recognized as highly illegal.  It was one of things that pushed former Ambassador Peck to the left.  You may not recognize his name, but you have heard him quoted often.  He is the person Jeremiah Wright, a former Marine, was quoting when he said 9/11 was "Chicken's coming home to roost"

                "Democracy is only real if we all participate" -- Bea Bookler, 94 year-old voter disenfranchised by Voter-ID

                by 8ackgr0und N015e on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 10:30:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I agree with you Saddam was contained. (0+ / 0-)

                Robin Wright (Washington Post) was all over this at the time, and gives an excellent summation afterwards.  

                The No Fly Zone was not what contained him.  The No Fly Zone was for our benefit.  It allowed us to help Chalabi get set up, among other things.   He was contained by a combination of sanctions and military threat plus the fact he was weakened by the war with Kuwait.  

                Make no mistake, Hussein's complaint against Kuwait was legitimate.  They were stealing his oil by transverse drilling into his fields.  Also, make no mistake, Iraq was happy to sell it's very high quality oil (low sulfur) at very competitive prices.  That's why Russia, France, Italy and others decided to break the embargo and invest.  Of course, that left the US and Britain in the position of having to invade and toss out the old oil contracts if they wanted to re-establish control of the Iraqi oil fields.  Sanctions were not enough if the goal was control.

                "Democracy is only real if we all participate" -- Bea Bookler, 94 year-old voter disenfranchised by Voter-ID

                by 8ackgr0und N015e on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 11:02:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  It's #1 in the Syrian public's agenda. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rja, Deep Texan

      That matters a great deal more to me.  YMMV.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:37:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  who cares? (0+ / 0-)

      Even if this is part of the neocons agenda, does that make it wrong or the results undesirable? The current situation in untenable in the long run. The Syrian regime does need to go

  •  I'm surprised this was leaked (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kinak, poco

    Not surprised at all that it was authorized. I'd assume that.

    I don't see any good reason why this would be leaked.

    •  Why not? (11+ / 0-)

      1) Everyone involved knows that we are supporting the rebels, so it isn't a secret.

      2) It might give the Turks some cover in their efforts to support the rebels.

      3) Romney was just in Israel and was talking about Syria. This shows that Obama was way out in front.

      4) Taking out Assad is the easiest way at this point to damage the Iranian imperialists. I doubt that Obama thinks that Syria is likely to end up with a decent government after this, but whatever it is it probably won't be aligned with Iran. Again, everybody involved knows this, but the administration has decided that it is time to acknowledge it.

      And most interesting:

      5) Assuming that this was an "official" leak, it means that Obama is willing to be associated with trying to overthrow Assad. He wouldn't unless he was sure that Assad was on his way out.

      •  well, there are secrets and secrets (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grover, Andrew F Cockburn

        1) true, but it's generally not made public

        2) I don't think it would make a difference to Turkey.

        3) I'd hope not actually. This shouldn't be a domestic political issue.

        4) Right, but why would making it public be a plus? Wouldn't it make Russia even trickier to deal with? As long as it's a secret (that everyone knows) the Russians can pretend they don't know.

        5) Possible but why?

        I'd still think keeping it an official secret would be more beneficial.

        But your 4&5 might be related to making it known to the rebels and/or general Syrian population(?) as as psy-ops(?)

        •  I think you underestimate the importance of (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ferg, KenBee, arabian, Andrew F Cockburn

          #3, the presidential election. President Obama has to win the election to continue being helpful to the Syrian people. There is always a delicate balancing act when domestic politics are being weighed.

          But Romney and the GOP have played the "Obama is wrong, no matter what" card in literally every circumstance. They even criticized his handling of killing OBL.  What is Romney going to do now? Concede that the President is correct? Side with a murderous dictator who appears to be committing war crimes right under the noses of UN observers?

          There is a time to stand up and say "I stood up for what is right."  And it's not after an election.  It may not seem like it's the most seemly thing to do while people are dying in the streets. But there is simply too much at stake in Syria for us to risk a Romney presidency. The stores of oil in Syria, the failure of Romney to make wise decisions especially when it comes to foreign poliicy, the neocons' obsession with war with Iran -- No, best that President Obama inject Syria into the election now, so we can have the conversation before it's too late.

          © grover

          So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

          by grover on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:39:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  let me rephrase (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            grover, Andrew F Cockburn

            I agree entirely with your comment. I meant to say something different, that I'd hope the leak wasn't primarily to gain political benefit.

            Here's another possibility: AJE's headline ticker is reporting that Jordan and Syria have exchanged fire (related to Syrian refugees trying to escape.) It could be a signal to Syria and/or Jordan.

      •  Agree with all points. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Andrew F Cockburn

        © grover

        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:28:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not so sure we should be cheering for (5+ / 0-)

    greater US involvement in a civil war.  We don't have a great track record in this regard. That being said this is when you are most thankful you have someone like Obama in the WH.  Intelligent, thoughtful, steadfast and cautious.  That would not be the case under a Romney admin.

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we need to really think about shit!

    by John Crapper on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:32:35 PM PDT

  •  We can't do any more than the FSA asks us to do. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Texan

    The Free Syrian Army itself isn't exactly banging down our doors to expand our involvement.  We have to take our cues from them.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:35:07 PM PDT

  •  This so needs supported! (6+ / 0-)
    Wearing jeans, trainers and an Adidas t-shirt, he looks like a primary schoolboy but for a green ammunition vest much too big for his small frame and the AK-47 he clutches in his right hand.
    He is one of a rising number of child soldiers – many barely older than ten – recruited by the increasingly desperate rebel Free Syrian Army to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
    Daily Mail
    Then, seemingly without warning, someone in the group of armed rebels fired a single shot. That set off a hail of bullets that continued for nearly 45 seconds. Many in crowd, including the cameraman, backed away from the ad hoc firing squad. As a cloud of dust cleared, the lifeless bodies of the captured men could be seen. An Al Jazeera reporter in Aleppo identified one of the dead as a local politician, Zeino al-Barri.

    Nothing like supporting children soldiers and war criminals.

    But since we have forgiven war criminals in Lebanon and are now friends with them, it is not surprising.

    What is surprising is that A. people on the left actually think we have credibility. Or that B. anyone in the U.S. doesn't think we are mocked daily for our hypocrisy in the Middle East.

  •  Duh. Anybody who thinks Obama would say "its (5+ / 0-)

    time for Assad to go" without putting some support into the effort... has not been paying attention.
    Obama doesn't care who does the sabre rattling or gets the credit, he just makes sure the job gets done.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:15:06 PM PDT

  •  I don't try to predict the future, I just know (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smiley7, TarantinoDork, Deep Texan

    tbat everytime a dictator comes to his end in any part of the world, I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

    •  Even if he's replaced by another one? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw, Pluto

      I don't see any outcome in this clusterfuck that resembles a Grand Victory for Democracy.

      My sympathy goes out to the ordinary folks caught between the two bands of armed thugs.  The people shooting each other can go fuck themselves.

      You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

      by Johnny Q on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 10:00:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well it ain't secret no more which means they (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco, stevej, Pluto, chipmo

    released the information for a purpose.  They're having a hard time keeping the original narrative going plus this conditions the public to accept US involvement.  But they're admitting involvement in another country's supposed civil war and that their proxies led by Saudi Arabia have indeed been supplying weapons, and not only weapons but sectarian fighters, terrorists and mercenaries. Interesting how the WH is steering this while admitting actions not authorized by the U.N. and against international law.

    "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:31:53 PM PDT

    •  al-jazeera reports differently (0+ / 0-)

      at least in aleppo, that the Syrian rebels are opposed to foreign fighters because they want this to be their revolution and that the people they've talked with have been locals.

      •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The Dutch photographer that was kidnapped (along with a British journalist) told Anderson Cooper that they were taken and held by foreign "rebel" fighters. But when the Free Syrian Army found out about them, they were furious with the foreign guys who were clearly freelancing.

        In war, it's hard to control every little loose thread, but it seems that the Syrian rebels have learned from watching Iraq and other civil wars that they need to keep as tight of control as they can.

        © grover

        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 09:06:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Whitehouse (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster, chuckvw

    needs to tread very carefully on this one as bad shit will come out from both sides. This is a potential minefield (metaphorically)

  •  By Syrian (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, Fire bad tree pretty, chipmo

    Rebels we mean who?

  •  Arms Treaty (0+ / 0-)

    The aid to Syria may or may not turn out to be a good thing, but Washington is clearly thinking of its own interest and not that of the Syrian people, whatever the contents of this secret may be.

    See my blog post on the failure of the US on the arms treaty and the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia at

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