According to a report, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been providing intelligence indirectly to the Syrian government regarding extremist Islamic groups fighting in Syria. There is concern in Washington that the agenda to overthrow the Syrian President will sink the country into chaos and destabilize the region.
In a report in the London Review of Books Seymour M. Hersh, an American journalist, brings to light the divide in Washington between top politicians and officials as it relates to how to deal with radical Islamic groups in Iraq and Syria.
It appears top officials from the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff are not thrilled about Obama’s policy to overthrow the Syrian president, choosing to provide his government with analytics and intelligence on known terrorist groups instead. According to an unnamed former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff who spoke with the journalist, the information is passed on indirectly.
A classified assessment prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency and Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2013 came to the conclusion that overthrowing the Syrian President would create anarchy in the country, making it a breeding ground for terrorist.
At the time of the report the CIA was providing weapons to Syrian rebels. The weapons came from Libya and entered Syria through Turkey. This began shortly after the ousting of the Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, Hersh said.
The weapons were given to groups that had not been vetted but were willing to fight against the Syrian president. The supposedly “moderate” groups had disappeared and the Free Syrian Army was established in an airbase located in Turkey according to the unnamed source. The U.S. military report was accurate: the goal of arming “moderate” opposition groups against Assad was an unrealistic dream; the U.S. was providing weapons to radical Islamist groups.
Former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, said the assessment “got enormous pushback” from officials in the White House, which “did not want to hear the truth.”
“If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,” the Lieutenant General said.
“The JCS believed that Assad should not be replaced by fundamentalists,” the former Joint Chief of Staff adviser told Hersh.
Realizing that challenging the Obama administration’s policy would be a futile, U.S. General Martin Dempsey purportedly chose to combat the extremist without using the “political channels”.
In an attempt to combat this common enemy, the U.S. military provided intelligence via a third party military, such as Russia, Germany, and Israel.
“It was clear that Assad needed better tactical intelligence and operational advice,” the former Joint Chief of Staff adviser said, noting, “Obama didn’t know, but Obama doesn’t know what the JCS does in every circumstance and that’s true of all presidents.”
The former advisor stressed the Syrian and U.S. military had no direct contact.
“It was a military to military thing, and not some sort of a sinister Joint Chiefs’ plot to go around Obama and support Assad,” the advisor said. “If Assad remains in power… it’s because he was smart enough to use the intelligence and sound tactical advice we provided to others.”
The U.S. embassy, with knowledge of the Syrian intelligence but aiming to destabilize the country, provided millions of dollars over a long period to finance opposition. At the same time, the Syrian President was attempting to develop a better relationships with Washington.
After the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, a unnamed adviser to the U.S. intelligence community told Hersh that “Bashar was, for years, extremely helpful to us while, in my view, we were churlish in return, and clumsy in our use of the gold he gave us,”.
By 2002, the Syrian President had provided Washington huge amounts of intelligence regarding the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany and Syria. Later in 2002, Syria stopped an Al-Qaeda plot to attack the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.