RNA - Until yesterday, White House officials were hyping up the escalation, which also included possible military action against Russia. Now they say the idea is “neither approved nor rejected”, and just left in limbo. It’s not an oversight, but rather a reflection of President Obama’s unwillingness to continue the program himself, and a desire to leave it as an option for the next White House tenant:
1- The CIA program has been unsuccessful and the new arms weren’t seen as a game-changer at any rate. As White House officials put it, the “moderate rebels are not doing any better on the battlefield, they’re up against a more formidable adversary, and they’re increasingly dominated by extremists.”
2- It’s likely the lack of alternatives that has prevented the program from being abandoned outright. The CIA has been on board with the arming from day one and hasn’t been all that worried about the extremist links within rebels. Regime change is still their long-term goal and they are not worrying too much about how they get there.
3- The program will resume next year. The White House is planning to just delay it for a couple more months and leave it up to Obama’s successor. The goal is to throw more fuel on the fire, even though it does accomplish nothing and is the debacle that is Washington’s Syria policy. The blame extends to the West as a whole, but it is the US, the leader of the West, that must bear the brunt of it.
4- The Syrian crisis is yet to provoke any serious discussion among Republican and Democratic presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Their thoughts on the matter hardly extend beyond making it harder than ever for Syrian refugees to get to the US. Just like Obama, they also say the “Assad regime must fall”.
5- Despite repeated attempts at a lasting ceasefire, an end to the fighting is nowhere in sight. This is because America’s bogus War on Terror is never-ending, Syria is irreparably divided, ISIL and Al-Qaeda complicate everything, Saudi Arabia and Co prolong the conflict by providing weapons and assistance to their proxy forces, and there is no international agreement on what comes next.
6- The US is in a bind because the CIA-backed rebels are increasingly dominated by ISIL and Al-Qaeda, validating claims by Damascus, Moscow and Tehran that they are fighting terrorists. The situation is complex too, but at its simplest, there is no point in arming a losing side in a lost war.
Above all, (1) arming rebels to kill more civilians is no way to pay tribute to those killed by US airstrikes; (2) within Syria there is no one who welcomes or supports Western military intervention or CIA-backed rebels; (3) internationally, there is no consensus that would offer an endorsement of a regime-change campaign and a risk-free intervention; (4) there is no US plan for stopping the multidirectional violence, much less rebuilding the nation; (5) and simply bombing Damascus or Aleppo to assuage the conscience of the West that they 'did something' seems like the worst form of symbolic politics.
In closing, the utter lawlessness in many regions of the Middle East today is the most recent example of what happens when the Empire of Chaos decides to intervene and deems to be on the right side of history. In the case of Syria, it is certainly not the case that a halt in arms to rebels will offer a straightforward righting of wrongs.