"Interception"Exclusive Documents Reveal Secret US Proxy Warfare Programs in 5 Arab Countries

The Intercept published an exclusive investigation into the Pentagon’s secret 127E proxy warfare programs in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and other countries.

The report showed that a small group of U.S. Special Operations forces are waging proxy warfare at a slower pace, but on a larger base than previously thought. The site and a number of media organizations have identified the use of 127e programs in a number of African countries, but documents obtained by the site under the Freedom of Information Act show that 14 127e programs were active in most of the country. Middle East and Asia Pacific by 2020 U.S. commando units conducted 23 127E operations between 2017 and 2020.

Meanwhile, retired General Joseph Votel, who commanded Special Operations Forces and Central Command in the Middle East, confirmed the existence of “anti-terrorism” efforts under the 127E in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Yemen.

A former Defense Department official, who asked not to be named, said there was a copy of the 127E in Iraq. The 127E program in Tunisia was called “Obsidian Tower” or volcanic glass, which was not recognized by the Pentagon, or turned out to be within the authority of the 127E programs. However, in 2017 it led to the involvement of US forces in local proxy groups, according to a set of documents obtained by the site.

Through 127E, foreign forces are trained, funded, armed, and provide intelligence support, but unlike other foreign support programs, these forces are sent on American missions to achieve American goals. “127 Echos members fill in loopholes when we don’t have enough Americans to fill them,” said a former Defense Department official, “and if someone describes 127 Echos as a confidant, it’s hard to discuss.”

Generals familiar with the program say the program, known in military parlance Echo 127, was effective in pursuing militants without endangering American lives. However, experts told the site that the use of vague powers raises questions about liability, oversight, and the possibility of violating the US Constitution. The document obtained by the site shows that the cost of the program and its operations between 2017 and 2020 was $310 million, a small fraction of the defense spending budget for the same period, but a relative increase in the budget. allocated to the program when it was launched under a different name in 2005.

For five years, the White House refused to discuss the program and its operations outside the war zone with the site. When asked about the usefulness of the program and the powers of 127E for counterterrorism strategy, the National Security Council responded, Patrick Evans, a spokesman for the council, “It’s all under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense.”

The site shows that the 127E programs date back to America’s war in Afghanistan, where leaders and the CIA tried to find ways to support the Afghan Northern Alliance in the war against the Taliban, and the Special Operations Command found that they did not have the authority to provide direct support to puppet groups and were forced to rely on funding from the CIA.

It was originally known as Branch 1208, and according to a former Defense Department official, powers were exercised in Iraq in the early years. Validity is enshrined in US law in accordance with “USC Title 10 § 127e”.

The site previously listed the Cameroonian “rapid reaction battalion”, which used the “127E” program. Now, he has revealed a little-known partnership with the G2 Strike Force, an elite Lebanese army unit with which the United States is partnering to counter ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorist organizations in Lebanon. Votel confirmed that the 127E program in Lebanon was called “Leon Hunter” or “Lion Hunter”. He acknowledged another program in Yemen called “Yukon Hunter” and named Egypt’s “Mystery Hunter” program, in which US special forces collaborated with the Egyptian army in pursuing ISIS fighters in the Sinai. Votel said that Egypt’s director of military intelligence provided “strong support” to Enigma Hunter and that US troops did not accompany local forces as they did elsewhere in Africa.

The website reports that the United States has a long history of supporting the Egyptian and Lebanese armies, but experts were surprised to see how the United States turned the two countries’ armies into proxy forces. Two experts said that the G2 Strike Force is a secret and important unit of the Lebanese army, and its choice as a partner in the 127E program is not surprising. One of them said that this unit, unlike other units of the Lebanese army, “is not politicized.”

Finally, the site points out that few people in Congress and the State Department are aware of how the 127E programs work, other than public opinion. While the documents talk about the scope and operation of the programs, they say little about oversight and accountability due to the secrecy surrounding them.

Source: The Intercept website.

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