The US involvement in Syria comes in “two main flavors”: one is an overt military operation which aims to defeat Daesh (ISIL/ISIS), while the other is a CIA-led clandestine program to support the Syrian rebels which are seeking to topple Bashar al-Assad.
© Sputnik/ Dmitriy Vinogradov
“The first rebels trained, funded, and armed by the CIA — a small ’50-man cell’ of fighters — were reported to have arrived in the fall of 2013, a few months after Obama gave the green light,” the scholars narrate, adding that the CIA program was codenamed ‘Timber Sycamore’.
However, American blogger Jeremy R. Hammond argues that the CIA kicked off its clandestine operation back in spring 2012, citing Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reports:
© REUTERS/ Abdalrhman Ismail
Despite having stepped in overtly in Syria, the Obama administration has not halted its clandestine program. There is clear logic behind it, according to the scholars.
“With Russian and American pilots in the skies, keeping the American program against Russia’s ally in Damascus low-profile makes US-Russian crisis prevention measures easier,” they note.
© REUTERS/ Rodi Said
And still not everything is rosy in the CIA garden. There were reports in late March 2016 that Syrian militants armed by the CIA and the Pentagon had begun to fight each other in the Aleppo region.
The Los Angeles Times reported that a CIA-backed militia called the Knights of Righteousness was expelled from the town of Marea by the Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
Nancy A. Youssef of the Daily Beast wrote in June 2016 that the Pentagon and the CIA have been involved in an embarrassing catfight over Syria. While the Pentagon is focused on defeating Daesh, the CIA is pushing ahead with its effort to topple Bashar al-Assad. The two are funding different groups which regularly clash on the ground.
As an apparent result of this infighting, 51 State Department diplomats inked a dissent memo, denouncing the Obama administration for focusing too much on defeating Daesh, and urged the President to attack Bashar al-Assad as soon as possible.
Time will show what fruits Timber Sycamore will bear.