Obama Asks for $500 million for Syrian Rebels: 500 US Troops in Iraq, More on the Way

June 28th, 2014 - by admin

Bill Plante / CBS News & Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com – 2014-06-28 00:53:48


Obama Asks for Funding to Support Syrian Rebels
Bill Plante / CBS News

(June 27, 2014) — The White House is asking Congress for new arms and aid for moderate Syrian rebels as ISIS militants make gains in Iraq. The $500 million request would fund US training of rebels in neighboring countries and supply small arms, but not the anti-aircraft missiles rebels are seeking.

Obama Asks Congress for Another
$500 Million for Syria Rebels

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(June 26, 2014) — Having thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at the various “moderate” Syrian rebel factions, the US has very little to show for it, as not only have groups like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra long surpassed the moderates as the dominant rebel faction, but ISIS appears to be on the cusp of forming its own country, carved out of Iraq and Syria.

Still, President Obama sees no reason to try something new, and is doubling down with a request to Congress for another $500 million for Syrian rebel funding, aiming at both training and equipment for the factions.

The White House is presenting this as an effort to do two things: oust the Assad government in Syria and create an “alternative” to factions like ISIS. Yet a casual glance at the situation suggests it will do neither.

The moderate groups like the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are in shambles, and US aid seems to accomplish little but postpone the inevitable collapse of the group, which controls no meaningful territory and is at this point more of a rebellion inside ISIS territory than what remains of Syria itself.

As an alternative to ISIS, the FSA has an even more uphill battle, as their long-term lack of success and reliance on groups like ISIS to do the heavy lifting in conflicts suggests that they are not a competent rebellion on their own, and $500 million more thrown their way isn’t likely to change that.

US-Backed Syria Rebels Crumbling in Face of ISIS Expansion
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(June 27, 2014) — In the ongoing Syrian Civil War, one constant has been the Free Syrian Army’s downward trajectory as a rebel faction of consequence. The primary of the US-backed “moderate” rebel groups has steadily lost influence to bolder Islamist factions for years.

Now, with ISIS seizing massive portions of Syria and Iraq and seemingly on the cusp of forming a new nation, the FSA is falling apart at the seams, with no territory to speak of and many of its fighters on the way out the door, either quitting the rebellion outright or to join the more successful ISIS.

FSA leaders have long complained about the US aid not being aggressive enough, and now, as President Obama looks to escalate, they’re complaining it’s simply too late.

That doesn’t seem to be stalling the administration, but it should, as the defections to more extreme rebel factions mean those “carefully vetted” fighters are going to be bringing their US provided weapons and cash straight to the harshest militants on the planet.

Pentagon: 500 Troops in Iraq,
More Are Coming

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(June 26, 2014) — It hasn’t been so long since President Obama announced his intention to send “up to 300″ US troops to Iraq as “advisers,” and the Pentagon now says there are 500 on the ground, with more coming.

Only about 180 of the 500 are actually the “advisers,” with other troops part of anti-terrorism security team, and still others manning the new Joint Operations Center in Baghdad.

Major General Dana Pittard is leading the new mission, dubbed the Joint Forces Land Component Command-Iraq by the Pentagon. A second Joint Operations Center is being considered further north, but not confirmed yet. Maj. Gen. Pittard had previously been the deputy commander of US troops in Kuwait, and before that was in command of Fort Bliss, in Texas.

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