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‘US spending big on Syria militants’

Press TV has conducted an interview with Seif Da’na, a professor at the University of Wisconsin from Chicago, for his insights into the US aid for militants in Syria.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: What exactly does that mean? How can the United States actually differentiate as they called it in the past the “moderate” from the extremist when they are offering cash in a situation where one would think that just about anyone without a conscience but want to make money could just get involved? So, how did they do this? What are the criteria that are used to make sure that it does not fall in the wrong hands and does not actually help the so-called bad terrorists?

Da’na: Well, the idea of screening actually is a joke, is a silly joke actually, because we know from the experience that most of the people that were trained by the CIA before either switch side and split either to the Nusra Front, which is extension of al-Qaeda, or to ISIS (ISIL). And actually some of the most advanced weapons like TOW anti-tank missiles that were provided to Hazem movement moved to al-Nusra Front or were used by Nusra Front. But what I want to say there is nothing really surprising about this news, because just eight days ago, last Saturday, the Washington Post issued a report talking about a one-billion-dollar program that was run by the CIA since 2013 or before even that to train Syrian militants actually and what they called the Southern Front, essentially most of the clashes now with the Syrian army. And we know that the centers of the ISIS which they claim they want to fight are actually in the north close to Aleppo in the north not in the southern front. And the southern front are intended basically to protect Israel. Basic calculation just for the audience, one billion dollars for 1 to 10,000 of these militants means that each one of them is costing the US about 100,000 dollars a year. And the one billion dollars is almost seven percent of the total budget of the CIA. This program was revealed by the Washington Post not by the Syrian government. And so, what have heard now is not really surprising at all.

Press TV: So, when we look at the situation and basically the United States is paying these individuals whether they’re going to either be ISIL or Nusra or whatever they’re calling themselves right now to try to overthrow the Syrian government, which is illegal according to international standards, how do they continue to get away with this?

Da’na: Well, we know that the US uses its power and can’t get away with anything, whether in the international community in the UN or the Security Council, it’s very difficult actually to bring the US to pay the price for its behavior. But we know for sure that we have been doing this for a very long time. They allow other countries, their allies in the region, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan to continuously do that, they have been doing that. They train them in thousands actually the changes in the ground that we’ve witnessed in the last couple of months actually has a lot to do with parts of this program. That five thousand new militants who that were trained in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan joined the fronts both in the north in Aleppo area and in the south in the southern front. And they’re actually getting that training more and more of them will actually change the scale of forces on the ground and at the end of the day they want to convince the world that what is happening in Syria actually is an ideal revolution, a confrontation between the population and the dictatorship and that of course is false. We know that if the US is paying one billion dollars a year to prepare the southern front army and if we add to that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan and actually Israel now, we know that Israel is also involved in this. We’re talking about an army that is really significant and well financed and well armed that is fighting with the Syrian army. And we’re talking about a large number of mercenaries essentially most of them are at this point some of them at least are not Syrians at all. So, they have no vested interest in any change in Syria. And that is the kind of program that the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are running actually in Syria, but we know that there is an operational room in Jordan called the MOC actually. And everybody in the Arab world knows that they read about that every day. There is one in Turkey and of course there are training camps in Saudi Arabia and Turkey and in Jordan. So, this is really the situation but the recent scandal came out basically only because the intelligence committee in the Congress decided to reduce the budget of the CIA by 20 percent in the next year. And that brought about the discussion about supporting and financing this program that is run by the CIA because it’s about seven percent of the total budget of the CIA. And that’s how it was revealed by the Washington Post and now we’re hearing about other programs obviously in addition to the one billion dollars.

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