As the US wants to arm 'nice Syrian rebels' we must remind ourselves that weapons are not just guns. They are about money

Hardware will end up in the hands of al-Qa’ida, says Robert Fisk

Share
Related Topics

Tosh! That’s the only sane reaction to the White House’s announcement that America the Brave is to arm the Syrian rebels.

The US doesn’t plan to send weapons to the horrid rebels, mark you – not to the al-Qa’ida-inspired al-Nusra Front whose chaps film themselves eating Alawites for YouTube videos, barbecue the heads of captured Syrian troops and murder 14-year-old schoolboys for blasphemy. Only to the nice rebels, the Free Syrian Army deserters who are battling the forces of Assad darkness in the interests of freedom, liberty, women’s rights and democracy.

Anyone who believes this knows nothing about war, killing, barbarity and, especially, greed. Because weapons are not just guns. They are currency. They are money. They are saleable commodities the moment you send them across any border. Their value in US dollars, pounds sterling, Syrian pounds or Qatari dinars is infinitely more important than their use in battle.

The Western powers are dangerously close to flooding Syria with weapons and ammunition which will officially go to the nice rebels – but will quickly pass to the horrid rebels, who will sell some of them to al-Qa’ida, Iraqi insurgents, Syrian government troops, Malian militiamen, Taliban fighters and Pakistani hitmen. Guns are about money.

It works like this. The nice rebels could be given anti-aircaft missiles (shoulder-fired variety preferred) to use against Assad’s helicopters and Migs. Thank you – “shukran” – the nice rebels will say. But once over the border, the horrid rebel Nusra chaps will make an offer the nice rebels can’t refuse: either many thousands of dollars or a threat to seize the munitions (head-chopping optional), or a mixture of both. For a hefty sum, the horrid rebels will then split the proceeds with their chaps in Iraq. Ask the Syrian government soldiers – as I have – and they’ll tell you that they too would prefer the weapons to go to the nice rebels, who always run away – because the horrid rebels of the Nusra always fight to the last man.

In the Lebanese civil war, not a single gun I ever saw was actually donated to the men who carried them. The Phalangists used weapons they received from the Israelis, who got them from the Americans (or with American money, the same thing). The Palestinians used guns from Syria, which had in turn imported them from the Soviet Union. Hezbollah even have a few self-loading rifles which appear to have come long ago from the Lebanese Army, which received them as surplus from the British Ministry of Defence after our chaps left Northern Ireland following the Good Friday Agreement.

Back in the Eighties, the US handed out missiles and other goodies to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the super-freedom fighters trying to kill lots of Russians in Afghanistan. But Mr Hekmatyar then became a super-terrorist and decided to kill lots of post-2001 American occupiers of his country – using the same weapons donated to him by those grand arms dealers Messrs Carter and Reagan Inc.

In 1991, the Israelis took delivery of AGM-114C missiles from the Americans – manufactured for the US Marine Corps, who were supposed to fire them at Iraqi soldiers – and used one of them to blow up an ambulance full of Lebanese women and children in 1996.

History lesson. The weapons used by both sides in the 1922-3 Irish civil war – and you can see them in museums – included Lee-Enfield .303  rifles, each bearing the imprint of a British crown on the butt. They had been made for the Brits to use against Germans in the First World War. Whoops...

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Specialist - HR Team

£26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £38,000

£16000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Sales Advisor - OTE 18k-23k

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Ford's leading Parts Who...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A man enjoys the  

If you really want to legalise cannabis, then why on earth would you go and get high in a park?

Peter Reynolds
 

No wonder 1,000 women a year are getting abortions because of extreme morning sickness. When I was suffering, my doctor said it would 'cure' me

Jo Crosby
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders