Thursday, July 20, 2017

Multi-Front War

President Trump has ordered a cut off to support to rebels in Syria backed by the CIA. This does not mean America is siding with Assad.

When I first heard that Trump is cutting off support for rebels in Syria, I wondered what the heck is going on? Then I saw details:

The Trump administration has decided to halt the CIA's covert program to equip and train certain rebel groups fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, two U.S. officials said, a move sought by Assad ally Russia.

Recall that the CIA and Department of Defense have backed different rebels in Syria. American support for rebels via the Department of Defense in the east has been growing and includes direct American military help.

The Department of Defense also backs rebels in southwestern Syria that have been shielded by a ceasefire agreement with Russia.

I don't assume this is anything but a win for the Pentagon over the CIA and a victory for ending support to rebels that bolster Turkey in the north--a Turkey that is less friendly these days.

Why would be back rebels who provide a buffer zone for Turkey when Turkey is endangering our troops supporting Kurds and other Syrians fighting ISIL.

So we may be just focusing on a more promising path to opposing Assad.

Or am I missing something?

UPDATE: Support for rebels in the east is certainly up:

Over the last week videos and pictures posted by Kurdish activists on social media show flatbed trucks delivering U.S.-made MRAP, M-ATVs, and up-armored bulldozers into Syria.

This front harms ISIL (by destroying them) and Iran (by blocking a land route through eastern Syria); but doesn't harm Russia (which just needs western Syria) or Assad (who doesn't control the area anyway).

UPDATE: Reason to worry?

Earlier this week, after a meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu let the cat out of the bag. He said Israel was “totally opposed” to the U.S.-Russian ceasefire plan for southern Syria because it leaves Iran very much present -- and gaining military power all the time -- in the country.

I have worries, too. It all depends on whether this is a tactical move to shield rebels in the south while the Raqqa battle is concluded (which soaks up resources that otherwise could be used to support rebels in the south) or whether it is a sign of things to come overall even after Raqqa is retaken from ISIL.

UPDATE: Stratfor says abandoning the northwestern rebels the CIA armed is rejecting a fight to overthrow Assad. I hope this isn't the case. Assad will not be grateful that we inflicted a small harm on him. Nor will Iran allow Assad to do anything but seek revenge.

It could be a reversal--if you actually think Obama was trying to overthrow Assad rather than just look like he was doing something.

And if you assume Turkey and our Gulf allies will also abandon these rebels in the northwest.

Or it could be a choice to emphasize the military-backed rebels in the south and the east. 

I guess I just don't know and there are reasons to draw conclusions either way.