Behind the White House’s secret Syria plan

Chet Nagle Former CIA Agent
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The White House won’t keep its own secrets, never mind those of the SEALs, Pentagon, or Israel — especially if leaking secrets helps President Obama look like a tough guy in his uphill re-election campaign.

The latest leak is a gusher, and reveals the Obama administration is secretly aiding the rebels in Syria. Unfortunately, in a replay of what happened in Egypt last year, the State Department still does not recognize that many Syrian rebel leaders are in the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaida. Nor does the State Department, which seems to rely on rebel propaganda and breathless mainstream media reports for information about Syria, know what is really happening there. But the truth is being revealed.

Reuters reported last Wednesday that President Obama has signed a secret order, an intelligence “finding,” directing the Pentagon, State Department, and other government agencies to support the Syrian rebels. Those agencies are doing so, and they have put the United States firmly on the side of Sunni Muslims who want to crush the Shia Alawites in Damascus. The plotters include: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and, of course, the United States. Bashar al-Assad, the vilified president of Syria, is absolutely correct when he says civil unrest in Syria is being fomented by “outside forces.”

The U.S.-backed regime-change cabal has provided weapons and money to the rebels and has built them a secret command center in Turkey near the Syrian border. According to Reuters, that “nerve center” is in Adana, close to Incirlik, a U.S. airbase with substantial military and intelligence resources. As a result, analysts note that the capability of the rebels is increasing, though they are still far from toppling Assad and the Alawites.

So who is doing what in Syria, and why? In a nutshell, each country involved in the rebellion is looking after its own domestic and religious interests and spinning the media. Shia Iran is helping Syria’s Shia Alawites survive by providing fighters, materiel, and expertise. The Iranians are interested in aiding their co-religionists, of course, but the main reason they’re intervening is that Syria is Iran’s most important ally. In fact, Syria is Iran’s only regional ally, a key stepping-stone that allows Iranian terrorists to travel directly from Iran to Lebanon.

Turkey is less concerned about religion than it is about the Kurds, the largest ethnic minority in both Syria and Turkey. In 18 months of civil unrest, Syrian Kurds have gained autonomy in a large area along Turkey’s southern border. The separatist Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, has struggled for years to establish an independent Kurdistan that includes a big swath of Turkish territory. Turkey is intervening in the Syrian conflict in order to undermine the PKK and prevent the Kurds from gaining a foothold in a post-Assad Syria.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are governed by staunch Sunni Muslims. The Saudis and other Sunnis on the Arabian Peninsula are using Alawite Syria as a battleground in an undeclared regional war with the hated heretic Shia Iranians. Iran matches money and arms the Sunnis send to Syria by inciting trouble in places where the population is mainly Shia, like Bahrain and Al-Qatif, the oil-rich eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Adding to the confusion, Al Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood are now in the ranks of Syrian rebels, fighting to turn Syria into another Islamist state like Egypt.

This complex maneuvering makes sense to each Muslim player, but what is President Obama doing in the mix? Is it a belief the Sunnis will inevitably win? Actually, it’s not clear they will. A week ago the rebels lost 100 fighters in a battle with government forces and, to cover the disaster, they claimed it was a massacre of innocent civilians by Assad’s army. The New York Times, no friend of Assad, was first to report the “massacre” was a fraud. Even so, Secretary Clinton called the non-massacre “outrageous.”

Without a coherent Middle East policy, the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton’s State Department continue on a naive and dangerous course based on their belief they are on the right side of history in something called the Arab Spring. Surrounded by escort vehicles during a recent visit to Egypt, Secretary Clinton could not see the tomatoes and shoes tossed at her car or hear the crowd shouting, “Get out, Clinton!”

But when our secretary of state left her armored limousine, she could not help hearing her Arab Spring crowds cheering her and her husband, chanting “Monica, Monica!”

Chet Nagle is a former Defense Department official and the author of Iran Covenant.