By Scott W. Winchell
Today, news was released that President Obama signed a “finding” document some two months or so ago that ostensibly gave the CIA permission to interact with the Syrian opposition forces. The signing of the “finding” may have coincided with the warning Hillary Clinton issued to Assad on April 1, 2012 to accept the Kofi Annan Plan. Clandestine and secret documents, or just the knowledge that they exist may constitute yet another leak. Why now do we see this in the news?
There is much speculation on what the parameters are in engaging the CIA with the opposition, but our sources in the fight, from more than one major faction, tell us that it’s all lip service. Senior military leadership in the FSA and SLA emphatically deny that they are receiving anything substantial from the CIA. Even they believe this recent revelation and the rhetoric is for political gain here in the USA – it is certainly not helping them on the ground.
Additionally, senior FSA leadership told SUA that reports stating that Turkey has supplied them with anti-aircraft munitions are blatantly false. What they do have they purchased from the black market arms dealers in Iraq and Turkey, all coming at a very steep price. At each time, no one from the west was instrumental in these purchases nor was the official government of Turkey.
They also deny that any opposition base of operations or nerve center exists in Turkey, and quite emphatically, not in Adana. Senior FSA leadership also told us today that reports from experts in the USA concerning the ongoing battles in Damascus and Aleppo are largely untrue. They assured us that the opposition forces in and around each major city are giving the regime forces all they can handle. In particular, in Aleppo, they report that regime forces are at a standstill and that the only offensive operations being conducted are by the FSA. They are capturing tanks and munitions, and bringing the fight to the regime forces despite the use of aircraft and artillery.
However, despite the manner in which they are succeeding, we receive daily pleadings for help, for ammunition, supplies, chemical and biological weapon protection, medicines, and logistical support from the opposition forces. Of course, SUA can only relay their messages, and inform those who wish to know in our governing structure. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are indeed helping. Perhaps this latest revelation concerning the CIA may mean the Obama administration is willing to do more than talk now.
Since General Vallely’s trip to the war zone, there has been a new found optimism among the freedom fighters, and it is evident that their determination and tenacity was bolstered by his visit, and the momentum since that time has truly shifted. The speed at which they have been operating, and their ability to withstand withering fire is testament to this fact despite the fact that they are heavily out-supplied and armed. The regime is becoming desperate, and the use of attack aircraft on civilian sites is an example of this desperation.
Despite Iran’s infusion of personnel, the application of heavy armor, the use of attack jets and helicopters, the Assad regime is failing. To further destabilize the region, Assad turned his support to the Kurds in the northeast of Syria, much to the chagrin of the Turks. This move allows the PKK, a terrorist designated organization, a base of operations on the Turkish border, and the Northern provinces in Iraq controlled by the Kurds. It is important to point out though that the Kurds and the PKK is not a monolithic bloc.
Mass regime defections are now a common daily event, and regime officers and leaders are seeing the writing on the wall. However, places like the hub of Syrian commerce and international trade in Aleppo are taking a serious beating. Refugees are many in number, hospitals are filled with civilians injured, maimed, and killed collaterally and even by direct assault on civilian neighborhoods.
Meddling by outsiders is an increasing problem though. Russian and Iranian meddling is well known, but now we also see Libyan and Algerian fighters entering the scene. This furthers the narrative from Russia and the Assad regime that terrorist organizations have convoluted the identity and makeup of opposition forces. Accusations are emerging that the FSA has committed atrocities through its associations with these groups that include al Qaeda.
Assad’s Regime continues to move its WMD and delivery systems around the country, both to keep them hidden from external targeting, and also from capture by freedom forces. The opposition has captured tanks, aircraft, supplies, and weapons systems, so the fear is high that they will lose control over the WMD. Desperate times are ahead, and if properly aided by the USA, the gratitude of the freedom forces toward us would be immeasurable and quite a diplomatic gain.
If Obama is serious, and this latest overture is genuine, all parties for peace will gain, and Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah will suffer a defeat that is well-deserved. It is time to call Russia’s and Iran’s bluffs. The proof is in the resignation of Kofi Annan, who clearly sees the meddling and stalling, all to keep Assad in power somehow. The Shia Crescent or a western friendly Syria is in the balance.