By Justin Gardner – June 29, 2016
If invading countries and drone bombing innocent civilians were not enough to promote death and destruction in the Middle East, the U.S. is also helping to flood the region with small arms.
As part of its effort to foment regime change in Syria, the CIA has been buying Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades in Eastern Europe for delivery to “moderate” Syrian rebels. However, it’s been revealed that truckloads of these weapons are being systematically stolen en route to the rebels.
The stolen weapons were then sold on the black market in Jordan at bazaars in Ma’an, Sahab, and in the Jordan Valley. Those involved in the theft scheme, worth millions of dollars, used the profits to purchase expensive SUVs, electronics, and other luxury goods.
It is also believed that some of the stolen weapons were used to kill two Americans and three others at a police training facility shooting in Amman in November.
The thefts were purportedly being done by Jordanian intelligence officers acting as intermediaries between the CIA and Syrian rebels, including senior officials who covered up the dealings for lower level officers.
The idea that American officials knew absolutely nothing about the lucrative scheme is questionable, especially considering that some of the weapons were destined for a classified CIA-run rebel training program in Jordan that began in 2013.
Basic accounting of inventory should have alerted officials early on that something was awry, but the lure of black market money is a powerful force. It takes many people and many bribes to carry off repeated weapons theft of this magnitude.
Jordan’s minister of state for media affairs insists that none of their intelligence officers were involved and that “Weapons of our security institutions are concretely tracked, with the highest discipline.”
But these are empty words, as Jordanian officials have already described how logistics officers—relying on cover provided by senior officers—were involved in the actual siphoning of weapons and delivery to large arms markets in Jordan. Several dozen officers, including a lieutenant colonel, were arrested, then released and fired from the intelligence service.
Two heads of the service, called the General Intelligence Directorate (GID), have been sent to prison for theft, embezzlement, money laundering and bank fraud totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Clearly, the GID is no stranger to criminal behavior.
The CIA has been cultivating its relationship with the (GID) for decades, beginning in the 1950s with payments to King Hussein for permission to set up intelligence operations on Jordanian soil. As part of the deal, the CIA helped the monarchy squash threats to its reign.
The Jordanian kingdom has tried to maintain complete secrecy about the CIA rebel training program, which is also funded by Saudi Arabia and has trained thousands of rebels over the past three years. It was launched to try and “gain control of a chaotic situation in which Arab countries were funneling arms into Syria for various rebel groups with little coordination.”
The news of this massive siphoning of weapons into the black market is another sad chapter in the decades of U.S. meddling in the Middle East. Time and time again, the CIA has armed “rebels” to fight the governments it deems undesirable.
The CIA nurtured the mujaheddin in Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight off communist Russia, but that misadventure brought us al-Qaida. The U.S. latched onto the Salafist sect in Syria to fight against Assad and destabilize the region, ultimately leading to the creation of the murderous Islamic State.
The efforts to train and equip rebels in Syria have led to the absurd situation where CIA-armed militias have fought Pentagon-armed militias between the Turkish border and the war-ravaged city of Aleppo.