Barack Obama’s inexperience in international military affairs will be come glaring in the coming months as the fallout from Syria starts to sink in. What am I talking about? There is a major, coordinated covert op undeway designed to oust Bashir Assad and the United States, at Obama’s direction, is playing a major role. Only one tiny problem–no guarantee on who will replace Assad. But the early odds favor radical Islamists that share much in common with the likes of Bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri.

We are seeing evidence this week of the dramatic escalation of the war in Syria. It is no mere coincidence that this escalation follows Obama securing his second term. Two things this week:

Use of manpads aka shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles that brought down at least two Syrian Air Force planes.

Syrian rebels have acquired as many as 40 shoulder-fired missile systems in recent weeks to counter assaults by Syrian military aircraft, introducing a possibly decisive new weapon into the conflict, Western and Middle Eastern intelligence officials say.

The potential impact of the missiles on the 20-month-old civil war was demonstrated Tuesday with the dramatic downing of a Syrian helicopter, blasted from the sky near Aleppo by what military experts say was almost certainly a portable anti-aircraft missile.

Shutting down Syria’s access to the internet.

Starting at 10:26 UTC (12:26pm in Damascus), Syria’s international Internet connectivity shut down. In the global routing table, all 84 of Syria’s IP address blocks have become unreachable, effectively removing the country from the Internet.

The arrival of manpads is especially alarming and points to what was going on in Benghazi.

While the Obama Administration publicly declares it is opposed to giving Syrian rebels manpads, it is another story on the covert side of the house. This is not a simple matter of simply providing a weapon system. Some of the intelligence operatives at the so-called “Annex” in Benghazi were collecting and shipping these weapon systems to Turkey. That’s one of the dirty secrets the Obama Administration is keen on hiding.

Do not delude yourself. The Syrian rebels did not win the Power Ball Lottery and suddenly acquire the ability to purchase and use manpads. They had help. Not just with procuring and moving the weapons, but in learning how to shoot them and hit a target.

So, where did that training take place? Were any Syrians brought to Libya for training? Turkey? Saudi Arabia? This much is clear–a covert training program for Syrian rebels has been operating somewhere over the last six months. And who is doing the training? There are only three possibilities–the United States, Europe or Turkey.

Don’t count Syria out. Assad has the Russians and Iranians in his corner. I don’t see with willing to sit by and let radical Sunnis take control of Syria. One thing is certain–this is very bad and very dangerous. Don’t be shocked if a civilian airliner is shot down within the next two years by a shoulder fired surface-to-air missile in the hands of a Sunni jihadi.

Previous articleEntitlement Gloom
Next articleThe Election is Over. Now Get To Work!
Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.