Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Syria has been an unrelenting obstacle in the Middle East peace process and a thorn in Washington's side when it comes to forging strategic alliances with powers in the region. After 9/11 and Syria's opposition to the War in Iraq, we tried to pressure President Bashar al-Asad's regime to change its policies and bring Syria into the Western political orbit.
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According to RT News and other foreign newspapers, the tyrannical Syrian government faces a real threat. Over 10,000 Libyans are reportedly being trained in a closed-off zone in Jordan, and they will shortly sneak into Syria to fight for the opposition. This army is allegedly paid around $1,000 a month by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The ­Jordan-based AlBawaba news website says most of the gunmen who are being trained are actually part of the Libyan armed opposition, who have not had the chance to lay down arms following the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

The allegations of funding from Riyadh and Doha were not attributed to anyone, but AlBawaba news media did draw attention to the fact that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar actively support the Syrian opposition.

At the same time, several Iranian news sources report that some 50 Turkish officers arrested in Syria last week have confirmed that they were trained by the Israeli Special Forces to carry out insurgent acts against the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad.

The arrested officers also, according to Iran’s Fars news agency, admitted to initiating contact with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, inadvertently lending support to the countries’ involvement in the ongoing conflict in Syria.

British MI6 agents have entered the Syrian ground, their Ministry said on Friday. This is the first time such a declaration has come from a ministry. The media have been  full of reports about foreign Special Forces training the Syrian opposition since November.

The Israeli DEBKA outlet reported that British and Qatari commandos are instructing the Syrian opposition and supplying them with arms. The French weekly Le Canard Enchaine and Turkish daily Milliyet revealed the presence of French intelligence in the region, also instructing the Free Syrian Army in urban guerrilla techniques. These camps were located in Libya’s Tripoli, southern Turkey and northern Lebanon, read the reports.

The Syrian government has also to deal with Jihadists flocking to the country from neighboring Iraq. According to the Iraqi Interior Ministry, the insurgents are smuggling weaponry across the border to support anti-Assad movement.

The foreign assistance has every chance of going beyond supply and training, analysts say. The Arab League has blocked the initiative that would be most productive to resolve the Syrian crisis peacefully. The League has suspended the observing mission even despite Assad’s approval to extend it. Many connect the League’s decision with the final report provided by the mission head, Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi. Al-Dabi dubbed the events in Syria as “violence on both sides” and “active insurgency” instead of “a popular anti-regime uprising.” This might have struck Qatar, which is currently chairing the League, as a bit too pro-Assad.
If you want to learn much more about U.S./Syrian relations and how they evolved over the years, read the book "In The Lions Den" by author Andrew Tabler.  
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Tabler was both a witness to and participant in the events of this covert conflict between Syria and the U.S. No other Western journalists were based in Damascus during the time he was there; Tabler was not only watched and censored, but courted by the Syrian government in an attempt to influence his stories to the international community. He gained unique access to the upper echelons of power like no other journalist before him, even accompanying the Syrian president on a state visit to China.

OSINT News recommends "In the Lion's Den" because Tabler captures behind-the-scenes experiences as well as the story of Syria itself post-9/11 and Washington's attempts to craft a "New Middle East." He examines the effects of the the Bush administration's strategy, asking what went wrong, what went right, and where Washington needs to go from here to deal with this volatile Middle Eastern country.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes about the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). A portion of this site's ad revenues is donated to the AFIO. The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. We're always looking for different perspectives regarding the Intelligence Community- got a thought, article or comment you'd like to submit? Contact us on the Secure Contact Form

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