When friends like Jor­dan steal weapons

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIAL & COMMENTS -

SCEP­TICS of Amer­i­can ef forts to arm anti-gov­ern­ment rebels in Syria have long wor­ried that weapons could be di­verted to op­pos­ing forces or ter­ror­ists. But they did not ex­pect diver­sion by mem­bers of Jor­dan’s vaunted in­tel­li­gence ser­vice, which was work­ing with the United States to train the rebels. Rev­e­la­tions, by The Times and Al Jazeera, of just such theft have shown how even a sup­pos­edly stal­wart ally can un­der­mine Amer­i­can in­ter­ests and aid its en­e­mies.

In a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the news or­gan­i­sa­tions found that Jor­da­nian in­tel­li­gence agents had sys­tem­at­i­cally stolen and sold on the black mar­ket mil­lions of dol­lars of weapons shipped into the coun­try by the CIA and Saudi Arabia for use by Syr­ian rebels. Some of the weapons were used in a shoot­ing in Novem­ber in which a Jor­da­nian of­fi­cer killed two Amer­i­cans and three oth­ers at a po­lice train­ing fa­cil­ity in Am­man, they re­ported.

The news is shock­ing in part be­cause the United States has long con­sid­ered Jor­dan one of its clos­est al­lies in the re­gion. The coun­try has been an ac­tive part­ner in the Amer­i­can-led airstrikes against the ISIS and has provided a crit­i­cal stag­ing ground for train­ing, arm­ing and co­or­di­nat­ing rebels fight­ing to over­throw Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad of Syria. About 2,000 Amer­i­can forces were sta­tioned in Jor­dan as of Jan­uary. The United States has promised Jor­dan at least $3 bil­lion in mil­i­tary and eco­nomic aid through 2017, partly to help it cope with about 650,000 Syr­ian refugees.

The CIA helped Jor­dan es­tab­lish its in­tel­li­gence ser­vice — the Gen­eral In­tel­li­gence Di­rec­torate, or GID — dur­ing the reign of King Hus­sein, who died in 1999. Al­though the agency is re­spected in Wash­ing­ton as a pro­fes­sional and com­pe­tent force, two of its re­cent lead­ers have gone to prison for em­bez­zle­ment, money laun­der­ing and bank fraud. This lat­est case sug­gests there is corruption through­out the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

In­stead of de­liv­er­ing the weapons to the Amer­i­can-backed rebels, the Jor­da­nian of­fi­cers in­volved in the re­cent swin­dle sold Kalash­nikov ri­fles, mor­tars and rocket-pro­pelled grenades to sev­eral large arms bazaars that have long stocked the ar­se­nals of crim­i­nal gangs, tribes and other groups. Then the of­fi­cers bought them­selves SUVs, iPhones and other lux­u­ries. Al­though word of the theft reached the Jor­da­nian gov­ern­ment last year, the op­er­a­tion was not shut down un­til a few months ago, af­ter Amer­i­can and Saudi com­plaints. GID in­ves­ti­ga­tors ar­rested sev­eral dozen of­fi­cers in­volved in the scheme, and the of­fi­cers were fired. But they were even­tu­ally freed and per­mit­ted to keep their pen­sions and prof­its from the theft.

The rev­e­la­tions ob­vi­ously shred the credibility of the Jor­da­nian gov­ern­ment and its in­tel­li­gence ser­vice when it comes to fight­ing corruption. Yet they are also an in­dict­ment of the CIA, which for three years has been re­spon­si­ble for train­ing thou­sands of rebels con­sid­ered mod­er­ates to use Kalash­nikovs, mor­tars, guided an­ti­tank mis­siles and other weapons. Pres­i­dent Obama at first re­sisted giv­ing the rebels lethal weapons be­cause of the risk that they would fall into the wrong hands. But in 2013, he au­tho­rised the covert pro­gramme and charged the CIA with vet­ting the rebels and con­trol­ling the flow of arms. The CIA has failed in its over­sight of the weapons. This scandal should be a warn­ing to those, in­clud­ing Hil­lary Clinton, who want to deepen Amer­i­can mil­i­tary in­volve­ment in Syria. — The New York Times

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.