The Los Angeles Times reports: A major impediment to determining who is who is that CIA officers largely have avoided entering Syria or traveling to the battle zones since February, when the U.S. Embassy in Damascus was shuttered for security reasons after threats by groups allied with the Assad government. Closing the embassy left the agency without a secure base from which to operate, and CIA personnel left the country, the [unnamed current and former] officials said.
Critics say the CIA’s absence from Syria is a missed opportunity to influence the fractured rebel movement.
“We should be on the ground with bucket loads of money renting the opposition groups that we need to steer this in the direction that benefits the United States,” said a former CIA officer who spent years in the Middle East. “We’re not, and good officers are extremely frustrated.”
The CIA declined to comment. When asked about statements that the CIA lacks a presence in Syria, U.S. officials notably do not dispute the idea, talking, instead, about other ways of finding out what is taking place.
“We know a lot more than we did about the Syrian opposition a month ago and much more than we knew six months ago. That’s because of increased contacts diplomatically and through a variety of other means that I’m not going to discuss,” an Obama administration official said.
A variety of other means? Come on, own up: CIA analysts are spending a lot of time following Twitter.
In contrast with this view that the U.S. government is still struggling to understand what is happening inside Syria, we have the Assad regime’s assertions that the war is being steered by outside forces. This view is summarized here in a report from Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency:
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.
Hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed, when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes.
The government blames outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups for the deaths, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.
In October, calm was eventually restored in the Arab state after President Assad started a reform initiative in the country, but Israel, the US and its Arab allies are seeking hard to bring the country into chaos through any possible means. Tel Aviv, Washington and some Arab capitals have been staging various plots in the hope of increasing unrests in Syria.
One can either believe that the hand-wringing going on in Washington is a charade whose purpose is to disguise imperial power actively shaping events inside Syria, or, see that there is now a wide and widening gap between America’s imperial mindset and its ever shrinking imperial capabilities.
Retired CIA officers can get wheeled into Congress and repeat the catechism that money is all powerful, but if that really was true then Iraq and Afghanistan should provide gleaming examples of how American money can be relied on to shape the world in accordance with American interests.