The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
U.S. Links Up with Syria Rebels

The CIA is in Syria, according to today’s WSJ.

U.S. intelligence operatives and diplomats have stepped up their contacts with Syrian rebels in part to help organize their burgeoning military operations against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, according to senior U.S. officials.

As part of the efforts, the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department—working with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other allies—are helping the opposition Free Syrian Army develop logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and providing communications training…

The U.S. in many ways is acting in Syria through proxies, primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, say U.S. and Arab officials. Saudi Arabia is particularly fixated on overthrowing Mr. Assad, said Arab officials, viewing it as a way to settle scores with an arch foe and weaken its chief regional rival Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are providing the funds for arms, Arab officials and Syrian opposition leaders say. The Obama administration hasn’t agreed to arm the FSA, the U.S. officials stressed. Mrs. Clinton on Wednesday denied charges by Syria and others that the U.S. has armed the rebels.

America is going deeper and deeper down the Syrian rabbit hole. It’s comforting to know that the CIA and the State Department are proceeding with caution. The Syrian rebels do not all have the same agenda and, among a number of bad policy options, closely investigating who is who and who wants what before giving them explosives and equipment is the least we can do.

The main thing to hope for is a swift end to the war: The longer the fighting goes on the worse the aftermath is likely to be.

Published on June 14, 2012 12:15 pm
  • http://two-masters.blogspot.com/ Agim Zabeli

    “(C)losely investigating who is who and who wants what before giving them explosives and equipment is the least we can do.”

    Yeah but, not to put to fine a point to it, who says we are in fact investigating that, let alonge closely?

  • http://two-masters.blogspot.com/ Agim Zabeli

    Wow. Two typos in one comment. Yuk.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    “The Syrian rebels do not all have the same agenda . . .”

    An understatement:

    http://tinyurl.com/bpckfwr

  • Anthony

    The nascent civil war takes structure and allies – fears and opportunities give rise to alliances encouraged by a perceived weakening state. Offensive realism predicts balancing coalitions…

  • http://thepencilofnature.net Lorenz Gude

    Here is Daniel Pipes’ reasons why the West should stay out of Syria. Given the unintended consequences of the Iraq intervention my neo-conservative ardor has cooled. I find myself agreeing with Pipes.

    http://www.danielpipes.org/11436/syria-intervention

    And here Pipes responds to interesting challenges to the above article.

    http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2012/06/further-thoughts-on-not-intervening-in-syria

    For breaking news on the Egyptian Army coup in Egypt try Barry Rubin’s Gloria Centre:
    http://www.gloria-center.org/2012/06/breaking-court-dissolves-egyptian-parliament-army-takes-over-civil-war/