[Marxism] Humour? US to arm FSA with "new inventory training"

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Mon Nov 25 16:55:49 MST 2013

"Now, the FSA is being armed with new inventory training, and stepped up 
receipt and delivery mechanisms to ensure that nonlethal and lethal 
weapons get into the right hands."

Geez, that'll make a great addition to those dozen or so ancient radios, 
the handful of flak jaks and inedibale "ready-meals" they've been arming 
them with so far ...

US to tighten mechanisms for FSA aid delivery

November 25, 2013 12:33 AM By Lauren Williams

      The Daily Star


REYHANLI, Turkey: The enthusiasm that surrounded the departure of 
thousands of tents, loaded onto trucks headed from Turkey's Bab al-Hawa 
crossing to the town of Atmeh in northern Syria, couldn't dim the dismal 
appearance of the supplies destined for the rebel Free Syrian Army. At 
the distribution warehouse in Reyhanli, Turkey, Col. Mahmoud, an 
effusive, defected colonel who now oversees the distribution of millions 
of dollars in lethal and nonlethal military aid to the FSA, was eager to 
explain how the tents would bolster his struggling forces on the ground.

He, along with representatives from USAID contractors Creative 
Associates International and their partners from the Washington-based 
Syrian Support Group, explained how, after a long interruption, new 
monitoring and receipt mechanisms had opened the floodgates for aid to 
the FSA, paving the way for tents and other military equipment to boost 
the mainstream, western-backed rebel group.

Unfortunately, the tents never made it to the intended recipients.

They, along with the commanders in charge of their distribution, were 
captured by the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria 
(ISIS) shortly after they reached Atmeh. The FSA's warehouse there has 
been taken over by ISIS and their FSA commanders await release from a 
nearby Shariah court.

Gains on the ground by Islamist militias and hard-line jihadist groups 
such as the Nusra Front and the more terrifying ISIS, have long posed 
setbacks for the beleaguered FSA.

Fears that aid might land in the hands of anti-western Islamists, 
whether through sale or force, have fueled Washington's hesitation over 
arming the moderate FSA, and according to Mahmoud, prompted the Turkish 
authorities to close their borders for even nonlethal aid.

Mismanagement and the lack of money from the FSA's Supreme Military 
Council culminated in the announcement last month that some several 
dozen units, primarily in southern Syria, were defecting from the group.

Now, the FSA is being armed with new inventory training, and stepped up 
receipt and delivery mechanisms to ensure that nonlethal and lethal 
weapons get into the right hands.

For-profit USAID grant recipients such as Creative work with the SMC and 
other intermediaries to ensure that the delivery of equipment - worth 
millions of dollars in contracts for everything from concrete to 
laptops, vehicles and armored vests - is adequately signed off for.

Under a new, yet to be signed agreement, seen by The Daily Star, 
Creative will work directly with the SMC to procure the desired materiel 
for receipt and distribution, provide inventory management, 
communications, logistics, as well as front command staff to boost the 
SMC's ability to manage equipment and strengthen command systems.

Creative is funded by the U.S. State Department's Bureau for Conflict 
and Stabilization Operations.

Mahmoud and others close to the military aid distribution network said 
the new methodology appears to have convinced the right people in 
Washington to open the floodgates after weeks of stalling.

"We have the main warehouses for the FSA here in Turkey. Then, we take 
the equipment to the main warehouses inside Syria, where it is 
distributed to five main commands," Mahmoud said.

"In the warehouse we decide who is the neediest ... the war is moving, 
so once it gets inside the FSA leadership decides according to the need, 
where it goes," he said, waving a hand at the tents headed for Atmeh.

"There has been very little in the way of theft ... We haven't been 
targets so far. We have our procedures. Our warehouses are protected," 
he said, calling decisions by rebel groups to leave the SMC a "temporary 

"There were no groups that left the SMC," he argued.

"It makes no difference on the ground because they are still under the 
umbrella of the SMC and we will still support all fighters."

There was no need to worry about FSA goods landing in the hands of 
Al-Qaeda, he added.

"They say that the FSA is disorganized and that there are terrorists. It's 
not true. The FSA loves life and loves freedom ... We consider Syria is 
our homeland - that's the most important thing."

As of Sunday it wasn't clear where the tents had ended up.

According to a distribution manager on the ground in Atmeh, a rebel 
commander from the Suqour al-Islam Brigades, an SMC-affiliated group, 
demanded more ammunition from the SMC. When the dispute escalated, the 
commander retaliated by seizing four tent-laden trucks but as violent 
clashes erupted, ISIS militants located nearby exploited the situation, 
capturing the Atmeh warehouse along with three SMC officers and the 
leader of Suqour al-Islam, according to the manager.

One U.S. military contractor, who asked to remain anonymous, described 
the monitoring and evaluation as "extremely important."

"Seeing a video of a U.S. truck being driven by a jihadist from ISIS is 
a nightmare scenario for the U.S. State Department," he said.

"It has been made abundantly clear to the SMC that if anything goes 
missing, or we don't know where it is, the floodgates will be 
immediately closed again," he added.

This week The Daily Star saw documents, signed by FSA leader Gen. Salim 
Idriss and FSA commanders from several fronts inside Syria, 
acknowledging the receipt of hundreds of Lenovo laptops and Toyota Hilux 

Nonlethal military equipment - drawdown materiel from the war in 
Afghanistan - also arrived by aircraft in Turkey for delivery to the 
FSA, which took place on Friday.

According to Charles Tiefer, a law professor at the University of 
Baltimore and a former commissioner for the Commission on Wartime 
Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the risks of aid and assistance 
provision are high under such conditions.

"It's very difficult. The problem is when the military group you are 
trying to help - even if it were a highly unified force, nevertheless 
has parts controlled by individual figures - warlords, is what they are 
called in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said.

"These individual figures will exaggerate the size of the forces 
required and the size of their needs. It's not in the interests of the 
recipient to work hard at reducing the figures."

"It is a risk in Syria. Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt countries 
on earth, and in the war in Syria, [at least] the rebel groups are more 
highly motivated. But I do think the impossibility of tightly ordered 
controls in Syria makes it a definite problem ... and you worry much 
more about lethal aid."

A Syrian contractor working with the SMC to track the supplies admits 
some aid "has gone missing" but says that if the rebel body enjoyed the 
right support, "everyone thinking to defect from the SMC will think 

As if to highlight those challenges, Friday saw the announcement of the 
biggest-yet merger of Islamist rebel groups, outside the SMC framework.

In Antakya, a former distribution manager with an independent Islamic 
organization primarily directing aid to ISIS said the FSA was becoming 
increasingly irrelevant.

"We saw millions and millions of dollars going to ISIS," he said, "while 
the FSA is getting smaller and smaller."

The fate of the trucks of tents remained unclear, as did the fate of the 
three captured FSA officers and the leader of Suqour al-Islam, awaiting 
trial at a Shariah court headed by ISIS in Dana, on the border with 

Those involved in distribution say that negotiations are underway and 
they have told Washington they are confident of the return of both the 
stock and personnel

Read more: 
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

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