The United States, in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, intentionally armed Syrian rebel groups working to overthrow the Syrian government while knowing that doing so could lead to the creation of an Islamic State. But since the creation of such a state would further destabilize the Syrian regime, it was viewed as a strategic opportunity for the U.S. and its allies, according to a newly released Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document.
Conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch recently obtained and released more than 100 pages of previously classified "secret" documents from the Department of Defense and the Department of State.
One of those documents was a 2012 DIA information report circulated among various government agencies - including CENTCOM, CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the State Department - predicting the Syrian civil war would act as a catalyst for the establishment of an Islamic State and lead to the destabilization of Iraq, according to the Levant Report.
The 7-page document notes that "the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaida in Iraq, which eventually became the Islamic State group]" are the main opposition forces fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and adds that "the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition," while Russia, China and Iran "support the [Assad] regime."
In a section of the report titled "The Future Assumptions for the Crisis," DIA predicts that Assad will survive the attempted regime change and the situation will evolve into a proxy war, with the U.S., Gulf states and Turkey on one side working to overthrow Assad, and Russia, China and Iran on the other side, backing Assad.
DIA then predicts, "... there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)," reported Nafeez Ahmed on Medium.
Since around the time the DIA report was released, the CIA has been covertly training and arming "moderate" factions of these rebel groups working to overthrow Assad, despite knowing that doing could lead to the creation of a Salafist Principality, according to The Guardian. To this day, these so-called moderate rebels continue to defect to groups such as the Islamic State group, bringing their U.S.-supplied weapons and training with them, as The International Business Times reported.
Salafism is defined as an "ultra-orthodox Sunni Muslim sect advocating a return to the early Islam of the Koran and Sunna," according to the Oxford Dictionary. The Islamic State group practices a version of Salafism, as does Saudi Arabia, and most of its adherents are said to be non-violent.
It's commonly believed that the Islamic State group rose to power due to a power vacuum created by the quick withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. This position has been supported by former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and a number of other top officials and media.
But as noted by former U.S. Marine Brad Hoff, who served in the Iraq War and now provides Middle East analysis for the Levant Report, the DIA intelligence report "matter-of-factly" states that the rise of an Islamic State group was only made possible "with the rise of the Syrian insurgency," which has been materially supported by the U.S., according to the Levant Report.
Hoff points out that the DIA report makes "no mention of U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State's rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits."
The report goes on to warn that a Salafist Principality in eastern Syria would create "the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi."
The Islamic State group captured Mosul in Iraq last summer, and just last week the group took control of Ramadi.