September 18, 2015
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(ANTIMEDIA) Washington, D.C. — On Wednesday, the head of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM, which oversees the United States’ war in Syria) admitted there are only “four or five” remaining Syrian rebels trained by the U.S. — the product of about $500 million in Pentagon funds.
“We’re talking four or five,” General Lloyd Austin testified on Capitol Hill.
The remarkably low number of fighters highlights a failure in one of the main U.S. strategies for allegedly fighting ISIS in Syria: training rebels. Austin’s testimony is a strange development in the confounding saga, considering that in late 2014 the Pentagon predicted it would have trained “5,000 anti-ISIS Syrian rebels” by now.
“The program is much smaller than we hoped,” said the Pentagon’s policy chief, Christine Wormuth.
She claimed that while there are only four or five current fighters, there are currently 100-120 new fighters receiving “terrific training.” D.C. bureaucrats defended efforts to keep arming “anti-ISIS Syrian rebels.”
Further, a revolt is currently unfolding within the military, where 50 CENTCOM analysts claim intelligence has been manipulated by senior officials to cover up dealings with U.S.-backed forces in Syria. The analysts are formally employed by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
The scandal pertains, in part, to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s “highly, highly unusual” relationship with the head of U.S. Central Command’s intelligence wing, Army Major General Steven Grove.
According to The Fifth Column’s well-sourced report on the DIA,
“DIA analysts have accused the political appointees within the intelligence community and the Oval Office itself of drastically misrepresenting their intelligence forecasts in relation to the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The analysts say the administration is using the data to falsely paint a positive image of a fight that has ground to a stalemate.”
So why is intelligence on Syrian rebels and the fight against ISIS being warped?
A prevailing theory is that the funds and resources that were supposed to train fighters actually ended up falling into the hands of forces in Syria aiming to overthrow Al-Assad’s regime.
The Fifth Column continues: “To be very clear, the linked report openly states that the West was supporting Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. It is no longer a conspiracy theory. It is confirmed fact. This report confirms scores of anecdotal evidence accumulated over the years. To understand why the US would support the Islamic State, read this.”
As author of The Fifth Column’s report Justin King told Anti-Media, “The American people have to ask themselves: what is the most likely scenario? Did the military spend roughly 100 million dollars per fighter, or was the money diverted to fund operations aimed at destabilizing Syria? The Defense Intelligence Agency’s top guys have indicated the administration made a ‘willful decision’ to ignore the Islamic State. Declassified reports list the West as a supporter of the Salafists. If you still believe the US is actively combating ISIS, you’re making a ‘willful decision’ to ignore the evidence.”
Heaps of anecdotal evidence and suspicion of the United States’ support for ISIS have persisted since the inception of the Islamic State. Now, however, the evidence indicates a more systemic, sordid policy of corruption.
Various individuals and groups have expressed suspicions about U.S. ties to ISIS. Fidel Castro recently accused the United States of colluding with ISIS. A declassified report obtained by Judicial Watch directly implicates the U.S. in efforts to destabilize Syria by arming radical Islamic groups — which later became ISIS — with no regard for the consequences that come along with doing so.
The report said “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”
This is a critically important admission of U.S. intent to “isolate the Syrian regime” by empowering violent groups on that path (Salafists are a fundamentalist sect of radical Islam, largely spread and supported by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Sunni dictatorships).
A report from Harvard researcher Garikai Chengu illustrated the roots of ISIS: “Rather than promoting religious integration and unity, American policy in Iraq exacerbated sectarian divisions and created a fertile breeding ground for Sunni discontent, from which Al Qaeda in Iraq took root.” (It’s important to note that Al Qaeda did not have a measurable presence in Iraq prior to the U.S.’ 2003 “liberation” of the country, which is corroborated by declassified CIA documents showing that Saddam Hussein was not collaborating with the terror group.)
“The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) used to have a different name: Al Qaeda in Iraq. After 2010 the group rebranded and refocused its efforts on Syria,” Chengu’s report continued.
Further, according to a recent report from ORB International, 81% of Syrian people believe the U.S. had a dominant role in creating ISIS.
“The advance of ISIL In Iraq has many seeking reasons for their presence in Iraq. 81% Syria/85% Iraq believe that ISIL is a foreign/American made group, while in Iraq with the larger split in sunni/shia population 75% also agree that it is a result of sectarian problems across the region,” the study explained. It’s hard to imaging an outcome to the war with ISIS that is favorable to the U.S.’ stated goals in countries where over 80% of the population believe you are directly responsible for the problem to begin with.
What is clear is that the U.S.’ post-9/11 policies in Iraq are directly and admittedly responsible for the creation and rise of ISIS.
What is less clear is whether U.S. officials are genuinely (while ineffectively) attempting to defeat ISIS, or simply using the group as an excuse to execute a larger geopolitical strategy in the region. What are your thoughts?
This article (US Spent $500 Million Training “4 or 5″ Moderate Syrian Rebels Now in Combat) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Cassius Methyl and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email firstname.lastname@example.org.