Obama authorizes secret support for Syrian rebels


A Free Syrian Army member aims his weapon after hearing shooting in Aleppo July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST MILITARY)

Reuters

President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, sources familiar with the matter said.

Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence “finding,” broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.

This and other developments signal a shift toward growing, albeit still circumscribed, support for Assad’s armed opponents – a shift that intensified following last month’s failure of the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.

The White House is for now apparently stopping short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some U.S. allies do just that.

But U.S. and European officials have said that there have been noticeable improvements in the coherence and effectiveness of Syrian rebel groups in the past few weeks. That represents a significant change in assessments of the rebels by Western officials, who previously characterized Assad’s opponents as a disorganized, almost chaotic, rabble.

Precisely when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorization, an action not previously reported, could not be determined.

The full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined comment.

‘NERVE CENTER’

A U.S. government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the United States was collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.

Last week, Reuters reported that, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had established a secret base near the Syrian border to help direct vital military and communications support to Assad’s opponents.

This “nerve center” is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.

Turkey’s moderate Islamist government has been demanding Assad’s departure with growing vehemence. Turkish authorities are said by current and former U.S. government officials to be increasingly involved in providing Syrian rebels with training and possibly equipment.

European government sources said wealthy families in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were providing significant financing to the rebels. Senior officials of the Saudi and Qatari governments have publicly called for Assad’s departure.

On Tuesday, NBC News reported that the Free Syrian Army had obtained nearly two dozen surface-to-air missiles, weapons that could be used against Assad’s helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Syrian government armed forces have employed such air power more extensively in recent days.

NBC said the shoulder-fired missiles, also known as MANPADs, had been delivered to the rebels via Turkey.

On Wednesday, however, Bassam al-Dada, a political adviser to the Free Syrian Army, denied the NBC report, telling the Arabic-language TV network Al-Arabiya that the group had “not obtained any such weapons at all.” U.S. government sources said they could not confirm the MANPADs deliveries, but could not rule them out either.

Current and former U.S. and European officials previously said that weapons supplies, which were being organized and financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were largely limited to guns and a limited number of anti-tank weapons, such as bazookas.

Indications are that U.S. agencies have not been involved in providing weapons to Assad’s opponents. In order to do so, Obama would have to approve a supplement, known as a “memorandum of notification, to his initial broad intelligence finding.

Further such memoranda would have to be signed by Obama to authorize other specific clandestine operations to support Syrian rebels.

Reuters first reported last week that the White House had crafted a directive authorizing greater U.S. covert assistance to Syrian rebels. It was unclear at that time whether Obama had signed it.

OVERT SUPPORT

Separately from the president’s secret order, the Obama administration has stated publicly that it is providing some backing for Assad’s opponents.

The State Department said on Wednesday the U.S. government had set aside a total of $25 million for “non-lethal” assistance to the Syrian opposition. A U.S. official said that was mostly for communications equipment, including encrypted radios.

The State Department also says the United States has set aside $64 million in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people, including contributions to the World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other aid agencies.

Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury confirmed it had granted authorization to the Syrian Support Group, Washington representative of one of the most active rebel factions, the Free Syrian Army, to conduct financial transactions on the rebel group’s behalf. The authorization was first reported on Friday by Al-Monitor, a Middle East news and commentary website.

Last year, when rebels began organizing themselves to challenge the rule of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Obama also signed an initial “finding” broadly authorizing secret U.S. backing for them. But the president moved cautiously in authorizing specific measures to support them.

Some U.S. lawmakers, such as Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have criticized Obama for moving too slowly to assist the rebels and have suggested the U.S. government become directly involved in arming Assad’s opponents.

Other lawmakers have suggested caution, saying too little is known about the many rebel groups.

Recent news reports from the region have suggested that the influence and numbers of Islamist militants, some of them connected to al Qaeda or its affiliates, have been growing among Assad’s opponents.

U.S. and European officials say that, so far, intelligence agencies do not believe the militants’ role in the anti-Assad opposition is dominant.

While U.S. and allied government experts believe that the Syrian rebels have been making some progress against Assad’s forces lately, most believe the conflict is nowhere near resolution, and could go on for years.

  1. #1 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on August 2, 2012 - 2:50 pm

    Well, I’m sure Barry will score brownie points with Israel to help him in the election for doing this.

  2. #2 by on August 2, 2012 - 7:35 pm

    Obama, main culprit in the death of Egypt’s Omar Suleiman

    presstv.ir/detail/2012/08/02/254084/obama-main-culprit-in-suleiman-death

  3. #3 by 30.06 on August 2, 2012 - 7:41 pm

  4. #4 by Ghazi Al Hind on August 3, 2012 - 2:13 am

    I’m not a infowars fan, but here is a story people should be aware of:

    http://www.infowars.com/kony-2012-style-pr-stunt-to-sell-war-on-syria/

    A mercenary who was previously embedded with U.S. troops and also fought with Libyan rebels is set to produce a documentary film in an effort to propagandize for the invasion of Syria, drawing his inspiration from Kony 2012, the infamous “viral” video that drew widespread criticism for its role in using manipulative techniques to grease the skids for U.S. military intervention in Africa.

    33-year-old American Matthew VanDyke is a film maker and war correspondent who was embedded with the U.S. Military in Iraq. In 2011, VanDyke traveled to Libya to fight with NATO-backed rebels, many of whom were members of LIFG, an Al-Qaeda offshoot responsible for killing U.S. troops in Iraq.

    VanDyke was subsequently imprisoned by the Libyan regime for nearly six months but managed to escape and aid rebels in overthrowing Colonel Gaddafi and turning Libya, once the richest country in Africa, into a chaotic NATO puppet state run by “out of control” sectarian thugs who have imprisoned, tortured and killed thousands of black Libyans.

    Despite his direct aid and support for the LIFG, a group listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, VanDyke faced no legal retribution from the U.S. government.

    Even as many of the same Al-Qaeda terrorists who fought in Libya and Iraq now flood into Syria to back the insurgency against President Bashar Assad, VanDyke has announced he plans to travel to Syria to “join the rebels on the front line” and film a documentary as part of a “public relations campaign” to “generate an incredible amount of publicity” in creating support for the overthrow of the Syrian government.

    Despite the fact that it was vehemently derided as a dumbed-down propaganda stunt which used falsehoods and emotional manipulation to convince viewers, VanDyke unashamedly cites Kony 2012 as his inspiration, noting that the film will be produced and released in the same manner.

    As we documented at the time of its release, despite the fact that it used the plight of people in Uganda to push for further U.S. military intervention in Africa, Kony 2012 actually enraged Ugandan people who rioted during a screening of the film.

    Indeed, the backlash to Kony 2012 grew so intense that it caused director Jason Russell to have a mental breakdown. Footage later emerged of Russell engaged in a drug-fueled naked fit during which he screamed and allegedly masturbated openly on the street.

    VanDyke is asking for donations to fund the project, while also canvassing people on Twitter to “Donate to send 2 #Libya fighters to #Syria!” He is trying to raise a minimum of $19,500 but adds that a figure of $100,000 “would allow for a tremendous publicity campaign for the film!”

    Just like Kony 2012, VanDyke plans to use happy-clappy emotional manipulation to hoodwink viewers. Despite the fact that rebels have carried out massacres and bombings as well as summary executions of pro-Assad captives, VanDyke plans to portray them in a “very human, moving, and distinctive way.”

    Another ironic twist to VanDyke’s urge to help Syrian rebels is the fact that his journalist friend John Cantlie was recently captured by so-called ‘Syrian’ rebels who told him of their plans to bring Shariah law to Syria. In reality, the men were described as “foreign jihadists,” many of whom had English accents and were from Britain, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    It’s also ironic that VanDyke calls himself a Christian, yet he is mobilizing funds to bankroll a pro-Syrian rebel documentary despite the fact that Syrian rebels have ransacked numerous Christian churches.

    Despite a massive establishment media public relations campaign implying that Assad’s demise is just around the corner, insurgents are failing to make much progress against government forces in major cities. This is presumably why the military-industrial complex and mercenaries like VanDyke are being called upon to launch a new propaganda offensive aimed at legitimizing a NATO invasion.

    While the RAND corporation is now citing the presence of Al-Qaeda fighters put there in the first place by NATO powers as a reason to intervene, VanDyke’s role will be to characterize Syrian rebels as democratic freedom fighters, when in reality they are largely comprised of opportunists and foreign insurgents doing the bidding of NATO in toppling Syria as the next phase of the contrived “Arab spring”.

    *********************

    Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show and Infowars Nightly News.

  5. #5 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on August 3, 2012 - 3:15 am

    Leaked: Obama approved covert CIA support for Syria rebels

  6. #6 by Ingrid B on August 3, 2012 - 8:13 am

    Why is everything this Jew puppet does these days, “secret”?

  7. #7 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on August 3, 2012 - 3:20 pm

    @ Ingrid, I suppose he doesn’t want the international community to know he’s a murderer?

    Obama directs CIA to support ‘Syrian Rebels’ August 2nd, 2012

  8. #8 by Ingrid B on August 3, 2012 - 6:22 pm

    Thanks Ghazi Al Hind, and Sazzy, for providing important info..

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