Bulgaria sales weapons to terrorists. The Pentagon hides documents.
Krassimir Ivandjiiski /Красимир Иванджийски/
A huge arms scandal linked to the supply of weapons to the jihadists from al Qaeda and An Nusra in Syria and Iraq from countries in Eastern and Central Europe (where Bulgaria tops the list) has blown up and captured the headlines of all major world media.
Both international monitoring groups Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) that investigate the crime have brought evidence that the Pentagon not only had been involved in weapon supplies for US $2.2 billion to the US partners in Syria through shady schemes and private dealers linked with shady structures and organized crime, but had manipulated documents including end-user certificates to hide US involvement in this crime.
OCCRP and BIRN have published military files disclosing the Pentagon as a leader of massive arms trafficking from the Balkans and Caucasus, which closes in Syria and Iraq.
The program is a part of the US plan for training, logistics and weapon equipment of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces – SDF, which operate mainly in Syrian east. The above supplies have been taking place for years.
High-ranking German officials also attacked this operation after it became clear that weapon deliveries went through Ramstein - the US military base in Germany, on their way to Syria.
Since September 2015, Syrian militants have received arms and ammunition for more than US $700 million and these deliveries are still ongoing.
For 2017-2018, the Pentagon has allocated US $584 million to the said Syrian operation and has provided another US $900 million for purchases of older Soviet-made weapons and ammunition by 2022.
Overall, we are talking for over $ 2.2 billion in weapons that are to be spent for the jihadists or the "opposition" in Syria in the coming years.
The US delivers the weapons through a vast logistics network and a whole army of arms suppliers - shipping companies, cargo and airline companies, Balkan airports and ports, and so on.
Arms supplies run through two main channels.
The US Special Operations Command or SOCOM runs the first one while the second goes through Picatinny Arsenal, a New Jersey based arms depot.
In July 2017, Donald Trump closed the CIA-funded operation to arm the jihadists fighting the Bashar Assad government, called Syacamora, and since then the Pentagon program remained the only US arms campaign in Syria.
That is why we have to expect that after the defeat of the Islamic State, a major new military conflict shall burst in Syria.
Back in 2014, the Pentagon launched a US $500 million program to train and arm the Syrian insurgents with modern US weapons but only nine months later, the program had failed. The Pentagon needed a new plan, that had started in September 2015 and they shifted the focus to directly arm the jihadists on the battlefield with weapons and ammunitions from Eastern Europe.
The first supplies by the Pentagon of 50 tons of ammunition arrived in October 2015 - only a month after the change in their policy. The munitions were delivered to the newly formed so-called Syrian Democratic Forces led by a Kurdish structure, which had been the main ally of the Pentagon in Syria. Then hundreds of new shipments followed.
By changing their tactics, the Pentagon started to deliver weapons and munitions for USD 240 million from Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Poland and Romania.
Between December 2015 and September 2016 the SOCOM chartered four sea vessels from Romanian and Bulgarian ports in the Black Sea and loaded them with about 6 300 tons of munitions designated to military bases in Turkey and Jordan. These bases are main logistic points of supply to the jihadists in Syria.
The Pentagon also used the Azerbaijan airline Silk Way and chartered a cargo flight to Turkey and Kuwait, which are in fact arm hubs of the jihadists from Syria and Iraq.
The Pentagon has requested an additional USD 322.5 million for the present fiscal year, which ends in October 2017 and another USD 261.9 million for the next 12 months in 2018 allocated for purchasing of ammunition and weaponry for Syrian insurgents.
This money means tens of thousands of AK-47s, RPGs, and hundreds of millions of ammunitions.
SOCOM is not the sole Pentagon branch that buys arms and ammunition for Syria. The above-mentioned Picatinny Arsenal, a military base in New Jersey, along with a subsidiary branch in Rock Island, also New Jersey, is an important part of the supply network. They have purchased weapons and ammunition for more than USD 480 million from Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Georgia, Poland and Serbia.
The company admits to pushing deliveries to Iraq and namely East European armament to Iraq and Afghanistan, but keeps silent about its own role in the Syrian conflict.
BIRN and OCCRP have disclosed seven contracts amounting to US $ 71 million and signed in September 2016. These were denoted with an in-house Pentagon code V7 that relates to the Syrian conflict. The reporters managed to make copies of the said documents before the Pentagon, which in turn evaded any questions, could have manipulated them.
However, it is now too late, because besides these US $71 million, another USD 408 million was allocated to buy weapons from Eastern Europe - Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine.
Shipments to Syria will increase in the coming years, since by 2022 Picatinny intends to spend more than USD 950 million on future purchases of former Soviet-made weapons.
According to some sources, Picatinny is a mainspring of a CIA-led weaponry program for the jihadists in Syria. We are talking about a program named Timber Sycamora, which was started in 2013 by the President Obama and was shut down in July 2017 by the President Trump. The documents evidence that Picatinny bought arms designated for Camp Stanly in Texas, which, according to information dated 2015, is a CIA weapons depot for the arming of terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Nicaragua.
In the list of arms manufacturers from Central and Eastern Europe, one can find the names of Krushik Valjevo from Serbia and VMZ from Bulgaria.
It is very important to classify the final destination in order to assure a smooth stream through the channel to Syria. There is a standard requirement in arms trading to submit a valid certificate of the final destination that will clearly show the end-user. However, SOCOM's certificates do not figure any country in the Middle East, and they point SOCOM as an end-user, although this US structure does not use Eastern European armament. Besides, as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) the USA has undertaken to prevent arms trafficking, including complying with the requirement to point the end user’s country.