According to reports, the House Armed Services Committee is currently preparing an amendment to arm and train the Syrian rebels that will be voted on this week. If passed, the bill will be attached to the continuing resolution to fund the government until December. **UPDATE** The amendment has been posted.
The most troubling element to the proposed amendment is a provision allowing the Obama administration to arm and train rebels with ties to terrorism. The “vetted moderate rebel” groups supported by the administration are known to be partnering with designated terrorist organizations, and the passage of this amendment would give congressional blessing to such arrangements.
According to The Hill:
The measure includes several provisions intended to satisfy Republicans and Democrats worried about giving the administration blanket authority to arm and train rebel groups, who would be used in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
It would require Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to submit the administration’s plan for training the moderate opposition 15 days before the commencement of any such activities, the aide said. That requirement was put forward by the administration, the aide added.
After that, Hagel would have to submit an update to lawmakers every 90 days.
That will be the extent of oversight by Congress — notification by the Pentagon.
But then there’s this:
The Pentagon would be required to list every individual they are recruiting, and would have to provide information on their backgrounds, including any possible links to terrorist organizations, according to the aide.
But the bill would not prohibit people with links to terrorist groups from actually participating in the program, the aide said. Such a blanket prohibition could make it tougher to recruit people for the training program.
Remarkably, this amendment is being billed by Republican leadership and the D.C. media as limiting Obama’s powers.
As I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media the past two weeks, considerable evidence is mounting that the “vetted moderate rebels” that the U.S. has already sent weapons to are allying with ISIS and other terrorist groups on the local level.
On September 3, I reported that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — the main rebel group fighting the Assad regime — recently allied with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. A FSA commander later confirmed my reporting on their alliance near the Lebanon border.
Then on September 9, I reported on one of the first rebel groups to receive heavy weapons from the CIA earlier this year, Harakat al-Hazm, which has also allied with Jabhat al-Nusra.
And this past weekend I reported that the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), which had been billed as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies,” has signed a peace deal with ISIS according to both Arabic and English media reports. The head of SRF yesterday published a denial — in English (meaning, for Western audiences) — of those reports. And yet, the Wall Street Journal reported in May about SRF’s open cooperation with Jabhat al-Nusra.
So with this House amendment, Republicans would be endorsing the Obama administration’s existing policy of arming and training Syrian rebel groups known to be working with terrorists, which would effectively give Obama political cover in the case of more U.S. weapons ending up in the hands of ISIS and other terrorist groups.
They don’t call the GOP “the stupid party” for nothing.