Barack Obama's sending of $60 million to the Syrian opposition, announced this week by John Kerry after meeting the Syrian rebels in Rome, is going right into the cauldron of the neo-Salafi rebels that have turned northern Syria into what a high-level Washington intelligence source called the "Islamic Emirate of Syria."
The Washington intelligence source told EIR that Obama's $60 million funding is being sold as an attempt to give the non-al Qaeda rebels funds to compete with the Saudis in running "humanitarian" operations in rebel areas inside Syria. But, this is both futile and ridiculous, the source explained, because the Saudis, Qataris, and wealthy Gulf Arabs have provided hundreds of millions to the neo-Salafi forces who not only have superior heavy weapons in greater numbers than the "vetted" opposition, but also have enough money to run soup kitchens, clinics, food banks, and social services for the areas under their control.
Furthermore, all the money the United States puts in, gets mixed together, because the al-Qaedists are the dominant force in the rebel camp, due to their superior weapons and manpower from the Saudi millions over the last two years.
This intermingling of money and weapons is well-known by every observer of the region, especially the Russians, who immediately denounced the U.S. funds to the rebels.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that moves announced by Kerry in Rome "in spirit and in letter directly encourage extremists to seize power by force, despite the inevitable sufferings of ordinary Syrians that entails," reported Ha'aretz today.
An investigative report of the McClatchy news service today provides new evidence of the al-Qaedists' superiority in what is called the "Victory Brigade," which became "acceptable" to the United States because it affiliated itself with the "approved" Hama provincial military council.
"Sophisticated new weapons now in the hands of rebels in north-central Syria underscore how difficult it will be, once more lethal aid begins to arrive, to keep those weapons from Islamist extremists who have become key to rebel military advances throughout the country," the McClatchy piece says.
But investigations of the weapons used by the Victory rebels, "including Russian-made RPG-27s, shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades capable of piercing the armor on the Syrian military's most advanced tanks, and RG6 grenade launchers," show that they are also being used by Islamists like the Ahrar al-Sham.
The Victory Brigade "doesn't fight alone," McClatchy reported, and al-Ankir, a spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham, boasted that "Sham is also known to fight in alliance with the Nusra Front."
The McClatchy report suggests that the Victory Brigade rebels got their weapons as "part of a recently publicized shipment brokered by Saudi Arabia from Croatia. The RG6 rounds the rebels displayed this week were manufactured in Serbia."