Jake Sullivan is Old Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor, and it’s clear from a revealing piece published in RealClearInvestigations Wednesday that he is just as wrongheaded, in over his head, and incapable of putting the interests of the American people first as the rest of the Biden team. In a lengthy investigative article, journalist Aaron Maté establishes that “Obama officials now back in office under President Biden coordinated with the jihadist franchise in an effort to topple the Syrian regime – while claiming they backed only the ‘moderate opposition.’” Sullivan was one of the foremost of those officials, and now he and others are back, having learned nothing.
Maté noted that “in waging a multi-billion dollar covert war in support of the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, top Obama officials who now serve under Biden made it American policy to enable and arm terrorist groups that attracted jihadi fighters from across the globe. This regime change campaign, undertaken one decade after Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11, helped a sworn U.S. enemy establish the Idlib safe haven that it still controls today.” In the course of this wrongheaded campaign, Sullivan, who was then Director of Policy Planning, wrote to his boss, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “AQ [Al Qaeda] is on our side in Syria.”
I was among the few who were calling attention to this astoundingly foolish policy at the time. On Sept. 17, 2013, I wrote at JihadWatch.org: “The U.S. is now officially on the side of al-Qaeda.” This was because of Barack Obama’s plan to arm and train “vetted” members of the Free Syrian Army. In September 2014, said the New York Times, “Mr. Obama said he envisioned the Free Syrian Army’s providing the ground presence needed to confront ISIS in Syria.” Obama also said: “We have a Free Syrian Army and a moderate opposition that we have steadily been working with that we have vetted.”
But the Free Syrian Army was not vetted, not moderate, and never actually in a position to confront ISIS. Nor did it ever do so. There were numerous reasons why Obama’s plan was unwise from the start. In July 2013, Free Syrian Army fighters entered the Christian village of Oum Sharshouh and began burning down houses and terrorizing the population, forcing 250 Christian families to flee the area. Nor was that an isolated incident. Worthy News reported that just two days after the attack on Oum Sharshouh, Free Syrian Army rebels “targeted the residents of al-Duwayr/Douar, a Christian village close to the city of Homs and near Syria’s border with Lebanon … Around 350 armed militants forcefully entered the homes of Christian families who were all rounded-up in the main square of the village and then summarily executed.”
The New York Times reported in August 2014 that, according to Abu Osama, a member of a Nusra Front brigade that participated in the attack, the Arsal assault was “a combined operation involving fighters from the Free Syrian Army, the Nusra Front and ISIS.” And PJ Media reported the following month that “multiple media reports indicate that the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) is operating openly with ISIS and other designated terrorist groups.”
And while all this was going on, Jake Sullivan and his colleagues in the Obama State Department assumed that the Free Syrian Army was a moderate force that was on their side and even that al-Qaeda was fighting on our side in Syria. Foreign Policy Journal reported in August 2015 that none other than Gen. Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), had confirmed that “not only had he studied the DIA memo predicting the West’s backing of an Islamic State in Syria when it came across his desk in 2012, but even asserts that the White House’s sponsoring of radical jihadists (that would emerge as ISIL and Nusra) against the Syrian regime was ‘a willful decision.’”
When Flynn was asked if “the administration turned a blind eye” to analyses explaining how the Syrian “rebels” against the Assad regime were actually Islamic jihadists who wanted to establish a hardline Sharia state in Syria, Flynn responded: “I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision … It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.” That is, arm those Salafist, al-Qaeda, and Muslim Brotherhood elements, and do all they could to enable them to succeed.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.