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Have the CIA Take Out Assad

7:07 AM, Jul 13, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Reuel Marc Gerecht, writing in the Wall Street Journal

CIA floor seal

"Does President Barack Obama want Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to fall? He's said he does, but fear of an interventionist slippery slope, re-election concerns, and anxiety about America's prominence in the Middle East have severely limited U.S. efforts to topple the Damascus regime. Shaming Russia into forsaking its Syrian ally appears to be the coup de grâce that Mr. Obama and his indignant secretary of state are still counting on. "This approach may not differ much from that of Mitt Romney, who has studiously avoided revealing what he would do in Syria. Even on the more hawkish right, there isn't a lot of appetite for committing U.S. military power to the conflict, except perhaps via the air in conjunction with Turkey. Tempers in Ankara are rising against the Assad regime, but Turkish civilian and military leaders still don't want to send tanks to establish Syrian 'safe havens' for rebels and refugees whom Turkey is supporting on its side of the border. "Yet there is an alternative that could crack the Assad regime: a muscular CIA operation launched from Turkey, Jordan and even Iraqi Kurdistan. The trick for Washington is to go in big, deploying enough case officers and delivering paralyzing weaponry to the rebels as rapidly as possible. "Press reports already suggest that a rudimentary, small-scale CIA covert action is under way against Assad. But these reports, probably produced by officially sanctioned White House leaks, reveal an administration trying not to commit itself. According to Syrian rebels I've heard from, the much-mentioned Saudi and Qatari military aid—reportedly chaperoned by the CIA—hasn't arrived in any meaningful quantity."

Whole thing here.

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