(GPA) Washington – Following the liberation of Aleppo by the Syrian military, president Obama first decided to send weapons to terrorist and now he is sending a new batch of US special forces to aid “rebel” groups.
Just after the Syrian army freed the majority of East Aleppo, the Obama administration has made multiple moves to step up the war in Syria and continue the bloodshed that they say they so oppose.
The first move by the Obama administration was in the form of a presidential memorandum that called to waive sections of the legal code that concern sending weapons to Syria. With the stroke of a pen, Obama set in motion a new flood of weapons into Syria including to areas occupied by “known terrorists” for the sake of “national security.”
Now over the weekend, the president made plans to send an additional 200 US personnel including special forces advisers, trainers and bomb disposal units to the area outside of Raqqa.
According to the Pentagon, the new US personnel will be going to assist the group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in retaking the de facto capital of the Islamic State. This is in addition to about 300 other US special forces already fighting in Syria alongside the SDF and some Kurdish militant groups.
This comes after US defense officials have already admitted that they aren’t really “in perfect control” of the situation where they’re involved on the ground in Syria. On top of that is the fact that several groups that are a part of the SDF (including the Free Syrian Army) have cooperated with other terror organizations in Syria in offensives against IS in the past.
The move was announced by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter at a security conference in Bahrain over the weekend. Carter also used to opportunity to slam other allies in the region for not participating more in the efforts to combat terrorism despite proof that countries like the UAE and Qatar have funded groups that evolved into IS in the past and may continue to do so.
Carter of course went on to blame a large portion of the bloodshed in Syria on Russia, saying Bashar Assad’s ally had “only inflamed the civil war and prolonged suffering.” It’s hard to imagine how Carter sees the case as being so black and white with all of the American equipment being used on the ground from Aleppo in Syria all the way to Mosul in Iraq.
Even if the SDF didn’t contain known terrorist collaborators it still consists of several large Kurdish groups who will be placed at odds with NATO member Turkey, who is also looking to assist in toppling and occupying Raqqa. This is another country who has also recently been exposed as an ally (or at least a customer) of IS.
The Western nations have continued to cry for the humanitarian costs of the war in Syria but also insist on taking the lead in every major operation instead of defaulting to the wishes of the Syrian government or their Russian allies who were invited to assist in the war. Adding more weapons and soldiers to the conflict sure looks like a way to escalate the casualties in a way similar to what the US says Russia is doing.
The US can not continue to lead unilaterally and in bolstering groups know to affiliate with terrorists, the real question that needs to be asked is, what happens when IS leaves these cities and these “moderate rebels” need to decide the future of the regions now under their control.
The groups have already been in conflict with each other before and only started to cooperate once IS appeared on the scene. The US may be removing the Caliphate’s capital but it remains to be seen how the former adversaries will govern the city once it is “free.”
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.