In July, it was reported that President Donald Trump had put an end to the U.S. program providing weaponry to Syrian rebel groups hoping to oust President Bashar al-Assad. But just a few months later, a groundbreaking report showing that the U.S. Department of Defense under Trump’s watch was still funneling billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry to certain groups in Syria hit the news.
According to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the Pentagon has, so far, provided groups like the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units $2.2 billion worth of weapons.
Because of the lack of oversight, the report claims, the arms trafficking is helping to fuel an already chaotic and shadowy Eastern European arms trade, allowing these weapons to fall into the hands of pretty much anyone.
According to one of the report’s authors, Ivan Angelovski, the Pentagon “is removing any evidence in their procurement records that weapons are actually going to the Syrian opposition.”
If the report is correct then this program has stepped into the effort that had allegedly been brought to an end by Trump, equipping the so-called “moderate rebels” in Syria who want Assad out.
While on paper weapon shipments such as the ones being run by the Pentagon must include information regarding who is the end-user, the Defense Department has decided to have the equipment transfer take place without any vetting, giving any militarized group or militia access to these weapons. That includes Syrian rebels.
So in essence, the announcement that the Trump administration actually brought the program providing the Syrian opposition with arms and supplies was nothing but an empty promise.
Still, the Pentagon disputes these claims, saying that the usage of the equipment is closely monitored and that the program’s main goal is to help forces to secure territory taken from the Islamic State. But as we know from recent history, weapons and other supporting material meant for “moderate” rebels quickly fell into the hands of Islamic State militants. As a result, U.S. taxpayer-backed programs like these not only helped to fuel the Syrian war but they also helped to create the type of humanitarian crisis that is now responsible for the massive flow of refugees running away from conflict in the Middle East.
This illustrates just how little a massive government bureaucracy like the one we have in gear truly knows about the long-term consequences of their actions. And who pays for their irresponsible efforts in the end? We do.