Nothing to See Here, Move Along. Middle Eastern Fast & Furious?

Rebels captured a military air base in northern Syria on Tuesday, their second major strategic victory in as many days, activists said.The assault on the Jarrah airfield in Aleppo province comes a day after opposition fighters seized the nation’s largest dam, an iconic industrial symbol of the four-decade rule of President Bashar Assad‘s family.

See that flag? That’s the al Qaeda flag.

The airfield, which is located near the Furat dam captured on Monday, housed fighter jets that have been carrying out airstrikes on rebel held-areas around the country.

A video posted online by activists showed several military aircraft at Jarrah, some of them parked on the tarmac while another is in a hanger with boxes of ammunition piled up against a wall nearby.

“These warplanes are now in the hands of Ahrar al-Sham Islamic movement,” one rebel says in the video, referring to a specific rebel unit.

Are all these guys Islamic extremists?

Rebels led by the al-Qaida-linked militant group Jabhat al-Nusra captured the Furat dam on Monday, taking control over water and electricity supplies for both government-held areas and large swaths of land the opposition has captured over the past 22 months of fighting.

Somebody needs to explain why we are supporting these guys while downsizing our own military.

Turkey, formerly an ally of Damascus, has backed the opposition in the uprising against Assad’s rule that erupted in March 2011 and has claimed more than 60,000 lives according to the United Nations.

Makes you kind of wonder who supplied arms to these guys.

The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats.

No evidence has emerged linking the weapons provided by the Qataris during the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to the attack that killed four Americans at the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

But in the months before, the Obama administration clearly was worried about the consequences of its hidden hand in helping arm Libyan militants, concerns that have not previously been reported. The weapons and money from Qatar strengthened militant groups in Libya, allowing them to become a destabilizing force since the fall of the Qaddafi government.

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American officials say that the United Arab Emirates first approached the Obama administration during the early months of the Libyan uprising, asking for permission to ship American-built weapons that the United States had supplied for the emirates’ use. The administration rejected that request, but instead urged the emirates to ship weapons to Libya that could not be traced to the United States.

“The U.A.E. was asking for clearance to send U.S. weapons,” said one former official. “We told them it’s O.K. to ship other weapons.”

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The case of Marc Turi, the American arms merchant who had sought to provide weapons to Libya, demonstrates other challenges the United States faced in dealing with Libya. A dealer who lives in both Arizona and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Mr. Turi sells small arms to buyers in the Middle East and Africa, relying primarily on suppliers of Russian-designed weapons in Eastern Europe.

In March 2011, just as the Libyan civil war was intensifying, Mr. Turi realized that Libya could be a lucrative new market, and applied to the State Department for a license to provide weapons to the rebels there, according to e-mails and other documents he has provided. (American citizens are required to obtain United States approval for any international arms sales.)

He also e-mailed with J. Christopher Stevens, then the special representative to the Libyan rebel alliance. The diplomat said he would “share” Mr. Turi’s proposal with colleagues in Washington, according to e-mails provided by Mr. Turi. Mr. Stevens, who became the United States ambassador to Libya, was one of the four Americans killed in the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11.

Mr. Turi’s application for a license was rejected in late March 2011. Undeterred, he applied again, this time stating only that he planned to ship arms worth more than $200 million to Qatar. In May 2011, his application was approved. Mr. Turi, in an interview, said that his intent was to get weapons to Qatar and that what “the U.S. government and Qatar allowed from there was between them.”

Two months later, though, his home near Phoenix was raided by agents from the Department of Homeland Security. Administration officials say he remains under investigation in connection with his arms dealings. The Justice Department would not comment.

Mr. Turi said he believed that United States officials had shut down his proposed arms pipeline because he was getting in the way of the Obama administration’s dealings with Qatar. The Qataris, he complained, imposed no controls on who got the weapons. “They just handed them out like candy,” he said.

This is just like Fast and Furious, only different.

John Brennan was in charge of this operation and has been implicated in the running of guns to the Syrian rebels- who just happen to fly the al queda flag.

Ain’t that special?

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