Donald Trump had made a decision to end the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program to arm and train the “moderate Syrian opposition”. The covert program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its usefulness since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later.
The decision of Donald Trump to end CIA’s arm-and-train program for the Syrian terrorists is a win over the Deep State and signals that ousting Syria’s President Bashar Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.
According to the Washington Post, the decision was made about a month ago after Trump’s meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser Herbert Raymond McMaster and before the talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at G20 summit.
Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests. The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power.
The training program was ineffective and problematic since its launch. The CIA reportedly maintained its program to provide weapons to ISIS and Al-Qaeda terrorists whitewashed as Syrian opposition fighters since 2012.
After the Trump-Putin meeting, the United States and Russia announced an agreement to back a new cease-fire in southwest Syria, along the Jordanian border, where many of the CIA-backed terrorists have long operated. Trump described the limited cease-fire deal as one of the benefits of a constructive working relationship with Moscow. We describe it as damage control since Russia had previously threatened that it would defend Syrian troops against U.S. aggressions after a Syrian plane was downed while attacking US-backed terrorists .
“Any aircraft, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected in the operation areas west of the Euphrates River by the Russian air forces will be followed by Russian ground-based air defense and air defense aircraft as air targets,” declared Moscow in a statement just after the Syrian plane incident.
US Congresswoman and military veteran Tulsi Gabbard said in January that Obama funded ISIS and was arming the terrorists through CIA covert programs in an effort to overthrow the Assad government.
In March Senator Paul has introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (S. 532) in the Senate to prohibit American taxpayers’ money from being used to directly or indirectly support armed militants who are often allied with or working under the command of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) or other terrorist groups.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday that she cannot confirm the news of ending the program “at this time.”