Trump will end failed CIA program to train Syrian rebels
President Trump has decided to end a failed Obama-authorized CIA covert program that trained anti-Assad Syrian rebels. Critics are calling it a cave-in to Putin, the quo for the quid.
The CIA effort began in 2013 after pressure from U.S. allies and Congress forced President Obama to provide arms and training to rebels fighting to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad.
But the program was hampered from the start by a time-consuming vetting process that tried to keep out extremist recruits. The quality of arms was also questioned, and it's unclear how effective the program was.
U.S. officials who spoke to WaPo stated that the move is consistent with Trump's desire to seek better relations with Russia, adding that Trump came to a decision on ending the CIA program about a month ago. Jordan, the location where some of the Syrian rebels received training, has backed the move to kill the program.
One current official told WaPo that Trump's decision essentially means that "Putin won in Syria."
However, to a certain extent, the program was crippled from the start, as the White House during the Obama administration pushed for a stalemate outcome among the warring factions in Syria, in order to induce a political settlement. As such, the CIA was only allowed to provide rebels with enough support, so that they could to fight without winning – but also without losing.
The program will apparently be eliminated over the course of several months.
Trump met with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster before attending the G20 meeting in Germany on July 7, where Trump spoke closely with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the side.
Officials noted that Trump's decision to end the disastrous, costly CIA program was not a condition of the new ceasefire deal in southwest Syria between the U.S., Russia and Jordan, which came out of the G20 meeting.
The Washington Post headline demonstrates the line of attack: "Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow." Obviously, this is more proof that Trump is Putin's puppet because he's doing something "sought by Moscow." Never mind that the program was an abject failure. Never mind that once Russia got involved on Assad's side, there was very little chance for the rebels to be successful.
The "current official" who claims that "Putin won in Syria" appears to be blaming Trump for Obama's fiasco. Obama had at least three and probably more "Syria policies" – none of which worked, and all of which mostly made the situation worse. The former president's policies were marked by half-measures, timidity, and a curious reluctance to engage the enemy.
In short, Putin didn't "win" in Syria as much as Obama lost there. The brutality of the Russian bombing campaign that killed thousands of civilians along with Assad's inhuman gas attacks and Hezb'allah's fighting skills turned the tide of war, making the CIA training program irrelevant.
Trump is doing well to get rid of it.