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Obama Picks up too Late on the Threat from Syrian Rebels

A situation is being set up in which a future Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria can blackmail the United States.
Syrian rebels with bloodied captured policeman in Aleppo.

Syrian rebels with bloodied captured policeman in Aleppo.

Another question, however, is whether the buffer zone idea is real because it might camouflage something else. Suppose the United States wants to do something else entirely. This could mean to create a moderate, secularist force that might win a second Syrian civil war in which the rebels fought each other for power.

Alternatively, since northern Syria is now dominated by radical Islamists perhaps the U.S. policymakers hope that the southern part of the country could be a non-Islamist enclave. Control over that region might strengthen the hand of the non-Islamists in negotiating the new order in Syria or as a base for waging a second civil war. So this is the likely fruit of the first Syrian civil war, though that conflict is far from over. The old regime is still alive. What U.S. policy has helped to do is to create a big new threat to Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Israel. It’s also a threat to Lebanon, but since the Syrian Islamists will target the Iran-backed Hizballah there, Washington doesn’t mind.

What does this have to do with Benghazi? According to the Washington Post:

Obama administration officials have expressed repeated concern that some of about 20,000 of the weapons, called MANPADS, have made their way from the arsenals of former Libyan dictator Moammar (sic) Gaddafi to Syria.

This weapons system might be the most technologically impressive arms ever to fall into the hands of terrorists. Once Libya’s regime fell (another U.S. foreign policy production), these weapons were grabbed by the Libyan rebels and sold to the Saudis and Qataris, who supplied them, respectively, to the Syrian Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to reliable sources, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was in Benghazi trying to get those MANPADS back and was negotiating with radical militias toward that goal. Stevens was doing something good—trying to take weapons out of the hands of terrorists—and not running weapons to terrorists.

Yet that doesn’t mitigate the mess unleashed by the administration’s policy. At any rate, Stevens and these efforts failed. The money was too good for the Libyan insurgents to pass up, not to mention helping fellow Islamists and anti-Americans. And now thousands of advanced, easily launched anti-aircraft systems are in the hands of anti-Jordanian, anti-Iraqi, anti-Israeli, and possibly anti-Turkish terrorists.

And just imagine the very real possibility of commercial passenger planes being shot at, or even shot down, by terrorists armed with a weapon they obtained because of U.S. government ineptitude or even involvement.

Originally published at Rubin Reports, under the title, “Flash! Threat from Rebel Syria Becomes Clear and What Really Happened in the Benghazi Murders,” April 4, 2013.

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.


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