Just as some western governments and the Saudi-backed Syrian opposition are declaring that the US/Russia-brokered truce in Syria is on the verge of collapsing, the Wall Street Journal breaks the story, probably based on CIA leaks, that the Obama Administration is preparing a “Plan B” for Syria, should the truce fail. According to the Journal, the CIA and it’s regional partners have drawn up plans to supply “carefully vetted,” “moderate” rebel groups with heavier weapons, including shoulder-launched surface-to-air antiaircraft weapons (MANPADS). The Journal reports that the plans were discussed in a secret meeting of spy chiefs that took place just before the truce took effect on Feb. 27 and in a number of meetings since.
Unnamed officials said the CIA has made clear to its allies that the new systems, once agreed upon, would be given to the rebels only if the truce and the concurrent political track toward a lasting peace—Plan A—fall apart and full-scale fighting resumes. The Journal doesn’t say whether or not the CIA has calculated how many of those weapons, if they’re supplied, would end up in the hands of Syria’s Al Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al Nusra, which in the past has acquired up to half of the weapons supplied to other groups by the US.
Most ominously, the Journal writes: “The private message conveyed by U.S. officials to their Russian counterparts, who have backed the Assad regime with air power since last year, has been that the moderate opposition isn’t going away and that a return to full-scale fighting could end up putting more Russian pilots in danger, according to U.S. officials.” This is a virtual declaration of war on Russia, and will be taken as such by the Russians.
Frants Klintsevich, first deputy chairman of Russian Federation Councils Committee on defense and security, told Tass, in effect, that the CIA plan will fail.
“The situation in Syria is now developing not in accordance with US plans,” and that’s why “Russia is practically pushed toward unreasoned actions,” he said. “The attempts will not bring any result. We are rather thick-skinned. The US will not be able to return Syria to the state of chaos.”