We have gone through the Free Syrian Army and the White Helmets, and now we get indications that another project funded by the US is doomed to failure from the outset.
“Their mission, which has not been made public, is not to rebuild damaged cities and towns but to help Syrians return home by organizing efforts to clear roadside bombs left behind by the Islamic State and to restore electricity and access to clean water, in part to prevent the areas from becoming breeding grounds for militants.”
This is all to the good, but not if the program will be used as a breeding ground for Nazis.
It is not inconceivable that such a thing could take root in Syria, which was the post-World War II home of Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner. In 2005, David Duke visited Damascus, where he gave support to Assad and attacked Israel. Former BNP leader Nick Griffin also visited Syria in support of the regime. Reports are coming in that neo-Nazis are traveling to Syria to fight against the “rebels.”
Now we see a picture in the New York Times of U.S.-trained police officers in Syria giving the Nazi salute. Why is American aid to the Middle East either stolen or used to prop up dictators, Islamic terrorists, or Nazis? Isn’t there any other way?
U.S. Sends Civilian Team to Syria to Help the Displaced Return Home
By MICHAEL R. GORDON and ERIC SCHMITT, New York Times, June 22, 2017
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is sending a civilian team into Syria to try to bring stability to areas that American-backed forces have retaken from the Islamic State and to avert a humanitarian crisis, according to United States officials.
The team consists of only seven members, State Department officials and security personnel, several of whom have already arrived in Syria. Their mission, which has not been made public, is not to rebuild damaged cities and towns but to help Syrians return home by organizing efforts to clear roadside bombs left behind by the Islamic State and to restore electricity and access to clean water, in part to prevent the areas from becoming breeding grounds for militants.
The minimal footprint reflects President Trump’s opposition to nation-building and a war-weary public’s desire to minimize huge reconstruction projects after more than a decade of rebuilding in Iraq at a cost of over $60 billion.
Sending in such a small group, however, leaves open the question of whether the effort will be sufficient to deal with the daunting task of restoring normal life for millions of Syrians and solve wrenching problems, such as ensuring that the local governments are representative, restoring a functioning judicial system and preventing revenge killings.
“It is a minimalist approach that should be adequate to get them through the first few weeks, but beyond that, there are going to be problems that may require a more substantial effort,” said James F. Dobbins, who served as a special envoy to Afghanistan, Somalia, Haiti and the Balkans.
The decision to send the team into the combat zone followed extensive deliberations in the American government about security, with memories still fresh about the 2012 attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, an attack that led to the deaths of the United States ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans. The roughly 1,000 American troops already in Syria will help protect the civilian team against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
“Our efforts in post-ISIS areas will be strictly focused on stabilization and thus meeting the immediate needs of civilians in order to enable them to return home and to prevent the return of ISIS,” the State Department said in a statement on Thursday in response to a request for comment. “The efforts are limited to the provision of humanitarian assistance, clearing explosive remnants of war, and the restoration of essential services.”
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pointed to the need for a broader civilian mission, suggesting in remarks this week that it include “an ongoing effort, led by the State Department, to put together a governance body so that as soon as Raqqa is seized, there is effective local governance.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in testimony last week before Congress, said the administration did not yet have “a fully fleshed out” strategy for maintaining stability in Syria and Iraq after the Islamic State is defeated.
Mr. Mattis said he was consulting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on a larger strategy that includes both diplomatic and military components. “His diplomats are literally serving alongside us in Syria right now with our officers who are in that fight,” Mr. Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee. “So I am confident it’s being put together. It’s not complete yet.”
A State Department officer has rotated through Syria over the past 18 months, reporting on the political situation in the accompanying United States Special Operations forces who are advising American-backed Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters combating the Islamic State. As those militias have reclaimed towns and villages in eastern Syria in recent months, and are now poised to recapture Raqqa, the Islamic State’s self-declared capital, in the coming months, a sense of urgency has grown about addressing post-conflict priorities, including ensuring governance and providing aid to more than 400,000 civilians in the Raqqa province that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has cited as in need.
The looming problems in Syria are daunting. Unlike in Iraq, there is no functioning government or security force in the predominantly Arab areas that the American-backed fighters are about to take back from the Islamic State.
“In Iraq, you have got a police force and court system, which are not perfect but at least exist,” Mr. Dobbins said. “In Syria, there is no comparable authority to whom you can hand off these problems.”…
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