A member of a rebel group called the Martyr Al-Abbas throws a handmade weapon in Aleppo June 11, 2013. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman)
President Obama’s catastrophically bad idea of arming Syria’s rebels is exploding in his face like one of Laurel and Hardy’s cigars.
The rebels are battling each other—including beheadings!—amid growing atrocities by the Islamists and pro–Al Qaeda types among them. President Bashar al-Assad is chortling that the toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt kicks the pins out from under the Muslim Brotherhood–led factions in Syria. Congress, normally a pushover for anything like a covert operation backed by the White House, is fighting back. And now the CIA has been forced to warn Hezbollah—yes, you read that correctly: the CIA is warning Hezbollah—that pro–Al Qaeda Syrian rebel factions are planning attacks on Shiites, including Hezbollah, in Lebanon.
Let’s start with that last piece of shocking news first.
According to McClatchy, the CIA has passed on intelligence to Hezbollah that Sunni extremists—the selfsame radical-right rebels in Syria—are plotting attacks in Hezbollah-controlled areas of Lebanon. Says McClatchy:
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency warned Lebanese officials last week that al Qaida-linked groups are planning a campaign of bombings that will target Beirut’s Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs as well as other political targets associated with the group or its allies in Syria, Lebanese officials said Monday.
As McClatchy points out, Hezbollah has been put on the US terrorist list, so the United States can’t warn it directly, but the CIA has passed on the warnings through government officials in Lebanon. Make sure you read the whole piece by Mitchell Prothero, but the story notes that the CIA met directly with the officials and that Lebanon has already started to make arrests, after highly specific terrorist warnings were delivered. Astonishingly—just as the CIA is helping Prime Minister Maliki in Iraq battle rebels allied to the Syrian opposition and to Al Qaeda—now the United States is helping Lebanon squash the same fighters it supports against Assad! The best quote in the McClatchy piece is this one, from a Hezbollah commander:
“The Americans are starting to realize how bad their friends in Syria are, so they’re trying to get out of this mistake,” he said. “They also think that if a bomb goes off in Dahiya, we will blame America and target Americans in Lebanon. That will never happen, but they’re scared of this monster they created.”
Of course, the United States says it wants to arm and train only the “good guys” among the anti-Assad forces, although in practice that’s impossible. Meanwhile, the “good guys” (often merely less fanatical Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood types) and the “bad guys” (the Al Qaeda types, allied to the Iraq-based “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”) are busily killing each other. It reached a peak with the assassination of a commander of the so-called Syrian Free Army by fighters from the Al Qaeda–linked Jabhat al-Nusra, according to the Los Angeles Times. Said the paper: