"After struggling for years to identify groups in Syria that it can confidently support, the Obama administration on Friday abandoned its effort to build a rebel force inside Syria to combat the Islamic State. It acknowledged the failure of its $500 million campaign to train thousands of fighters and said whatever money remained would be used to provide lethal aid for groups already engaged in the battle.
Senior officials at the White House and the Pentagon said the strategy to pull fighters out of Syria, teach them advanced skills and return them to face the Islamic State had failed, in part because many of the rebel groups were more focused on fighting the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.
But officials said they were trying to adapt their strategy by seeking to identify the leaders of “capable, indigenous forces” in Syria who — after what the officials described as a vigorous vetting process — will be the first time the Pentagon has given military equipment to rebel leaders to distribute to their forces engaged in fighting on the ground. The C.I.A. has for some time been covertly training and arming groups fighting Mr. Assad."
The New York Times is today reporting that the White House is changing what passes for its Syrian strategy "within days". Instead of training moderate jihadists, it is going to identify the leaders of moderate jihadist forces already on the ground in Syria and channel weaponry to the, appropriately vetted of course, leaders of these groups.
To borrow Johnsons words; this seems to me yet again a case of the triumph of hope over experience. I can see the line of hopeful rebel leaders lining up at The State Department gate tomorrow, each with a slick powerpoint presentation on their size, organisation and capabilities, but inwardly dreaming about the villas they will build with the money they will make out of our stupidity.
Apart from the apparent admission of CIA involvement in toppling Assad, the rest of the alleged quotes pin this report sound straight out of a political science masters thesis:
- A "Flexible and adaptive" strategy.
- An "operational pause" translation: the Russians told us to butt out or else.
- "(basic) equipment packages and weapons to a select group of vetted leaders and their units so that over time….."
Lets get this straight. No person in their right mind is going to take our weapons and engage in a life and death struggle with the head choppers except the Assad regime forces and perhaps the Kurds because they have no choice. When faced with the head choppers, "moderate" Syrian Sunni Muslims not invested in supporting the Assad regime, will either join ISIS or head for the border.