As expected the Brits are the first to pull the trigger on this, both in providing the training and being willing to talk about it. That was the way it was in Libya, with the US government never getting around to admitting what was really going on, while the British defense (or defence) chief openly talked about taking out Gaddafi.
The paper shield for all this is that the United States and the United Kingdom are providing training to manage the chaos after/if Assad falls. There’s some grounds for that considering the disaster in the Libyan War, when the US, UK and France destroyed the Libyan government’s forces and turned over the country to a bunch of Islamist militias. Benghazi was a direct result of that.
But there’s no sign that Syria will go any differently. If anything the mess is likely to be worse. Al Qaeda allied militias are already keeping orders in parts of the country. Displacing them using a force commanded by defecting Syrian rebel officers is iffy at best. And that’s assuming that they don’t just hook up anyway, which has happened in the past.
Western training of Syrian rebels is under way in Jordan in an effort to strengthen secular elements in the opposition as a bulwark against Islamic extremism, and to begin building security forces to maintain order in the event of Bashar al-Assad’s fall.
Considering that the Syrian rebels have become a Muslim Brotherhood franchise under Turkish and Qatari supervision, with the apparent consent of Hillary Clinton, it’s hard to believe that these really are secular elements.
According to European and Jordanian sources the western training in Jordan has been going on since last year and is focused on senior Syrian army officers who defected.
A Jordanian source familiar with the training operations said: “It’s the Americans, Brits and French with some of the Syrian generals who defected. But we’re not talking about a huge operation.”
He added that there had so far been no “green light” for the rebel forces being trained to be sent into Syria. But they would be deployed if there were signs of a complete collapse of public services in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, which could trigger a million more Syrians seeking refuge in Jordan, which is reeling under the strain of accommodating the 320,000 who have already sought shelter there.
Again a bit vague. There are supposedly only a handful of senior officers being trained. So why this talk of rebel forces being sent o take control of an entire city?
British officials say new European guidelines on the Syrian arms embargo, formally adopted by the EU at the beginning of March, allow military training as long as the ultimate aim of that training is “the protection of civilians”.
In Libya, protection of civilians was used as an excuse for killing Gaddafi and destroying his military. So it’s a big foot inside a small door.