American Weapons, provided to Syrian rebels, fall into Hands of al-Qaeda

By Juan Cole

The al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (the Succor Front) not only took the territory of the moderate Muslim Syria Revolutionaries Front this weekend, it also polished off the Movement of the Resolute .

The Movement of the Resolute (Harakat al-Hazm) represented itself as secular, but had its roots in a fundamentalist group backed by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, the “Time of Muhammad” Front.

Last spring the Movement of the Resolute revealed that it had American TOW anti-tank batteries and access to other weapons. The TOWs were apparently supplied to them via Qatar or Turkey with American acquiescence.

Syrian al-Qaeda has swept into rural Idlib Province, taking over the checkpoints of the Free Syrian Army miderates.

This development is so disturbing because the current Obama administration plan is to train and arm the very sorts of people who were just defeated by al-Qaeda. The introduction of American heavy weapons into the midst of a civil war is not a very healthy development, since weapons inevitably travel between groups (through graft or conquest). We have just been given a preview of something that could happen a lot– migration of US heavy weaponry and even “moderate” fighters– to ISIL and al-Qaeda.


Related video:

America’s Weapons in al-Qaeda’s Hands

10 Responses

  1. Certainly not the first time, Juan.

    MANPADS previously purchased by Qatar for the so-called Free Syrian Army have made their way to ISIL in Iraq,, with the result being at least two IqAAC helicopters shot down in Iraq during operations in the month of October 2014..

  2. But this was entirely predictable, If the arms aren’t seized they’ll be sold or bargained.

    At least consolidation of the rebel groups would give Assad someone to negotiate with. In the end, a negotiated settlement is probably the best for the Syrian people. Some sort of power sharing agreement between Assad and a consolidated rebel movement even under al Nusra is better than the alternative: massacre of the losers and their associated clans or endless war. Sure, living under an authoritarian theocratic regime would be terrible. But which would you prefer? Your sister only being able to leave the house covered head to toe, or your sister getting raped by marauding “Men with Guns”.

    If the US wants to reduce the harm they do in the region (and I’d be naive to believe that that is their goal) they’d stop pumping arms into the region. Get the security council to bring real sanctions against Syria. Use the carrot of some sort of accommodation wrt to Ukraine to get Russia onside. Reassure Assad that his fate is left to the negotiations. Bring in UN observers.

    But securing oil wells in Iraq is the primary purpose of the US intervention, not peace in Syria.

    Incidently, I looked up al Nusra. Apparently, they’ve been designated a terrorist group. It mystifies me how this terrorist designation is supposed to be applied. Why do they get the terrorist designation, but other rebel groups in Syria do not? Because they call themselves al Qaeda?

  3. The US spawned al-Qaeda and still supports it. The US has a huge military presence in Qatar, and just down the street in Doha is a giant mosque which is al-Qaeda headquarters, with the despotic Qatar amir being AQ’s chief financial supporter. Of course Qatar as an al-Qaeda “safe haven” never comes up as it has in Afghanistan, being the main excuse for endless war there, because of the Persian Gulf political situation, and because the has relied on AQ in other places like Libya and Syria.

    • >The US spawned al-Qaeda and still supports it.

      Books such as Ghost Wars and The Looming Tower have shown that the us did not create al qaeda, also the accusation that they support it nowadays is just silly.

      • Good reply, though i was willing to cut the guy some slack.

        By “spawning” al Qaeda, you could say that the massive 80s US intervention in Afghanistan created an environment that “spawned” al Qaeda. And by saying that the US “supports” al Qaeda he could mean that continuing US intervention throughout the ME creates a “supporting” environment, by continually renewing the pool of those who feel anger to the US. Also, by flooding the region in arms, the US is reducing the cost of second hand market arms, again indirectly “supporting” supposedly al Qaeda linked organizations like the Nusra Front.

        The US provides generous support to repressive, ultra-conservative, authoritarian Persian Gulf nations, and this cannot but “help” al Qaeda.

        On the other hand, the original poster was seeming to imply a direct link between the US and al Qaeda, and that is not supported by any evidence that I have seen.

  4. Roughly, the one and only thing President Obama is doing right is not getting our soldiers killed. That is a good thing.

    As for the rest, I’m getting the impression Obama is pushing buttons with no labels. He carefully selects a new button to try when the previous button failed to achieve sufficient success. Once in a while a good button is pushed.

  5. More evidence of people rising to their levels of incompetence. Given that bureaucrats and military personnel the world over soon learn that the path to promotion requires saying “Yes, sir/ma’am,” “No, sir/ma’am” as appropriate on cue to the incompetent who signs their performance report, this should come as no surprise.

  6. Barry Schaffner

    A lot of advanced weaponry has fallen into the hands of Jabal al-Nusra in Syria and Islamic State in Iraq for US supported troops to worry about!

  7. Thank you, once again, Professor Cole for cogently and reasonably providing an informed insight for those who prefer thoughtful insights as a foundation for understanding, rather than merely seeking a rhetorical bias that panders to idle conjecture and uninformed preconceptions. These matters of life and death can not be resolved by the lazy-minded extremists of any persuasion, regardless of rather, or not, their hyperbolic behavior is well-intended. Human reason and its prodigy human wisdom, do not spring from dogmatic belief systems which simply provide a means to avoid/replace the work of gathering reliable information, upon which to base understanding and opinion.
    “Work is love made visible.” KG
    As Usual,

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