As Talks Open in Geneva, US Begins Direct Arming of Syrian Militias
By Alex Lantier
September 13, 2013
As US and Russian negotiators arrived in Geneva yesterday for talks ostensibly aimed at forestalling war against Syria, US officials announced that they were beginning to directly arm and supply the Islamist opposition inside Syria.
Over the last two years, the CIA has overseen the arming of the opposition militias with weapons paid for by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms like Qatar and transferred clandestinely via a network of bases in Turkey, Eastern Europe, and the Arab countries. Now, however, US taxpayer funds will go to arming opposition fighters allied or directly affiliated to Al Qaeda.
According to initial estimates by US officials, Washington will spend $250 million overall on aid to these forces. The CIA is delivering various light weapons and ammunition, though opposition spokesmen criticized the weapons shipments as “symbolic,” demanding that the US provide them anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
The US State Department is also providing vehicles, sophisticated communications equipment, and advanced medical kits.
Washington’s arming of the so-called rebels shows that its shift to holding talks with Russia over Syria was carried out in bad faith. The Obama administration agreed to Moscow’s offer to discuss destroying Syrian chemical weapons this week, as it became clear that the US Congress would likely vote down a resolution authorizing a Syrian war opposed by the overwhelming majority of the American people. However, this tactical maneuver did not signify any fundamental shift in the US war drive.
Rather, the US government and its allies are responding to the crisis provoked by the deep opposition of the US and international working class to their war plans by intensifying their criminal intervention. They are stepping up their arming of the Islamists, while continuing to prepare for a direct military intervention in Syria—launched illegally without UN approval.