Despite a solid eight months of stories about President Trump considering ending the CIA program to arm Syrian rebels, yesterday’s announcement that he’s ending that program has the rebels claiming they were totally “blindsided” and never expected such a move.
Needless to say, they’re outraged by the decision, saying that the lack of US arms shipments would quickly lead to the collapse of the “moderate” Free Syrian Army, to the benefit of jihadist factions closely aligned with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
This is a surprising claim, particularly for the Free Syrian Army to make, since one of the big knocks on them for years has been how closely aligned they themselves have been with Nusra, with claims that Nusra effectively had been using FSA as a cover to secure US arms.
The “moderate” Syrian rebels, to the extent they ever existed, was largely sidelined much earlier in the war, and as fighting in Idlib recently demonstrates, the real factions of influence left are all jihadists of various stripes. Indeed, a big part of why the US froze the CIA arms program earlier this year was that too many of the weapons were being used by jihadist groups against one another.