U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to conclude it's program which includes arming and training moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Syrian ruler Bashar Assad. According to senior US officials, the program will be phased out over the course of months.
Trump's decision to close the program came after a meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo a month ago, ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladamir Putin.
The US and Russia negotiated a ceasefire in southwest Syria and announced it on July 7 at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany where Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first face-to-face meeting. (timesofisrael.com)
The program to arm moderate Syrian rebels began under the Obama administration in 2013 and was continued under Trump until now.
Ex- President Barack Obama had approved the rebel aid program in 2013 as various insurgent groups sought external support in a general uprising against the Assad regime. (timesofisrael.com)
The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later. (matthewaid.com)
Various takes on the decision
According to analysts this sudden conclusion of the program by CIA is being seen as a move created by Donald Trump to show his interest in working with Russia.
Analysts also said that the rollback could create a vacuum that may be filled by more radical elements in the country's brutal civil war.
The United States may lose its ability to block other countries, such as Turkey and Persian Gulf allies, from funneling more sophisticated weapons — including man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS — to anti-Assad rebels, including more radical groups. (matthewaid.com)
For many, this reflects the new American administration's lack of interest in removing Assad from power and could damage the credibility of the United States.
Others argued that even if the program was ineffective, it could be used as leverage to gain concessions from Russian Federation. (hoyentv.com)
The recent announcement is also going to change the political foreign policy of the US as this move is going to make US back off from the strategy the Democrats used. It was very clear during elections that Trump does not agree with Clinton's foreign policy and his actions are proving the point further. One can also say that now the US will disengage from funding terrorism.
U.S. intelligence officials say battlefield gains by rebels in 2015 prompted Russia's direct military intervention on the side of the Assad regime. Some U.S. officials and their allies in the region urged President Barack Obama to respond by providing the rebels with advanced antiaircraft weapons so they could better defend themselves. But Obama balked, citing concerns about the United States getting pulled into a conflict with Russia. (matthewaid.com)
U.S. officials said the decision had the backing of Jordan, where some of the rebels were trained, and appeared to be part of a larger Trump administration strategy to focus on negotiating limited cease-fire deals with the Russians (matthewaid.com)
Toward the end of the Obama administration, some officials advocated ending the CIA program, but the program still had the support of a majority of top Obama advisers, who argued that the United States couldn't abandon its allies on the ground and give up on the moderate opposition because of the damage that it would do to U.S. standing in the region. (matthewaid.com)
Between all this one should not forget that Trump is under intense scrutiny by the Congress and a special counsel is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections and whether Trump's campaign had ties to the activity. Russia has denied U.S. intelligence agencies' allegations of Moscow meddling, and Trump has denied collusion between his campaign and Russians. (dnaindia.com)
It all started in 2011 when pro-democracy protests erupted in Syria and a group of young teenagers painted revolutionary slogans on a wall. Since then Syria has been embroiled in a civil war which soon turned into a war between two religious sects.
Various Sunni nations like the Jordan , Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey with the help of US became a part of this war as they backed the rebels. There was tremendous infighting and many groups attacked these countries as well.
In 2013, under Obama US decided to intervene militarily and help Syria to fight terrorism and ISIS, but the actions have not been able to produce the required results. The Obama led government had called for Assad to step down but the intervention by the US has indirectly helped Assad as well as the terrorists to remain in power.
It is not hidden that the U.S. government has been funding, weapons and logistical support to a number of groups inside Syria, both armed and unarmed. But on the ground, the U.S. and Syrian militaries are not fighting each other. Instead, they are both engaged in simultaneous military campaigns against the same enemy.
Qatar in the meanwhile has had it's own set of agendas to fulfill which includes selling gas to Europe, requiring access through Syria.
The recent Qatar crisis where several countries cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar accusing the nation to be supportive of terrorism led the world to believe that Qatar was the only country funding but it is interesting to note that all the Sunni Nations with the support of the US are funding the rebels inside Syria.
One thing is for sure that the Middle East should be prepared for some more blood shed to come as those once armed will be left out of ammunition and resources and a fair game for Syria will begin.