You have to hand it to Washington. When it comes to foreign policy blunders, the US certainly isn’t afraid to double and triple down.
As a leaked diplomatic cable from 2006 definitively shows, the US has actively sought to stoke sectarian violence in Syria for at least the last ten years and part of that effort has involved coordinating with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey to support Sunni extremists.
That support led directly to what has to be considered the most absurd foreign policy outcome in the history of modern statecraft and we never tire of calling it out: Washington, Ankara, Riyadh, and Doha trained and equipped a group of fighters, told them to go and destabilize the Assad regime, and somewhere along the way, that group of fighters went rogue and metamorphosed into a insane band of black flag-waving, sword-wielding, white Nike-wearing, desert bandits hell bent on establishing a medieval caliphate.
Whether or not ISIS is still getting support now that they have gone completely native we’ll never know for sure, but what we do know is that despite the sheer ridiculousness of that ‘train and equip’ exercise, the US and its regional allies went on to arm and fund still more Sunni extremists hoping against hope that they might manage to find the rebel Goldilocks zone and finally back a group that is all at once effective at fighting to overthrow the regime and not prone to going absolutely nuts in the process.
And if the original efforts to arm and train Syrian ‘freedom fighters’ ended in tears of sorrow, more recent efforts have ended in tears of laughter. The Pentagon’s latest foray into building a Syrian proxy army began back in May with a completely ridiculous press release that attempted to explain the rebel ‘vetting’ process. By the time summer rolled around, the US had only managed to field around 60 fighters. In July they were ambushed by al-Qaeda who kidnapped the group’s commander and deputy. By September, US Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin admitted to Congress that only ‘four or five’ fighters were still active on the ground. The rest had either been killed, captured, had defected to ISIS, or were lost in the desert.
Now that Russia is in the process of obliterating anything that even looks like a rebel and now that Hezbollah, the IRGC, and Tehran’s various Shiite militias are busy marching over anything that even looks like a Sunni extremist, Washington has resorted to resupplying America’s proxy armies. That is absurd for two reasons, i) it amounts to the US giving weapons to soldiers who are trying to kill the Russians and the Iranians, meaning Washington is literally waging a war against Moscow and Tehran with one degree of separation, and ii) the US is giving the Free Syrian Army anti-tank weapons to use against the very same Shiite militias who Washington supports in Iraq (i.e. they’re ‘allies’ in Iraq, and enemies in Syria).
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 10/25/2015.