U.S. Has Secret Pact to Aid Syrian Rebels

Monday, August 06, 2012
Syrian rebels and poster of Bashar al-Assad
Regardless of President Barack Obama’s public declarations that the U.S. will not provide arms to Syria’s rebels, the White House has approved a secret order authorizing support for those seeking to depose dictator Bashar al-Assad.
The order, known as an intelligence “finding,” allows the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and other agencies to help the rebels. The action mirrors that taken by the Obama administration last year when it authorized secret support for rebels in Libya.
For now, the assistance does not include giving weapons to Syrian opposition elements. But it may include providing intelligence on movements by government security forces.
Reuters reported “there have been noticeable improvements in the coherence and effectiveness of Syrian rebel groups in the past few weeks,” according to American and European officials. The news service said this “represents a significant change in assessments of the rebels by Western officials, who previously characterized Assad’s opponents as a disorganized, almost chaotic, rabble.”
U.S. ally Turkey has established a secret base near the Syrian border to help funnel military assistance provided by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to the rebels. The base is located in Adana, which is also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base “where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence,” according to Reuters.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
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