US spy agencies turn to Israel, Turkey, for help in Syria war
July 24, 2012 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Just days after a senior United States defense official admitted Pentagon intelligence analysts missed early signs of the Arab Spring, a new report claims that Washington is still “struggling to understand” the Syrian situation, sixteen months into the uprising. Citing “interviews with US and foreign intelligence officials”, The Washington Post says that the US Intelligence Community has yet to develop a clear understanding of the intentions of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Nor have American analysts been able to draw a lucid picture of the fragmented opposition forces in the country. The paper says that, even though US spy agencies have intensified their intelligence-gathering efforts targeting all sides of the civil war, they have been unable to establish a physical presence inside Syria. This, according to The Post, is partly due to Washington’s decision, back in February of this year, to shut down the US embassy in Damascus, which has traditionally served as staging ground for Central Intelligence Agency operations inside Syria. This latest article confirms previous reports in The New York Times and elsewhere, of a small CIA team operating along the Syrian-Turkish border, with the task of overseeing a multinational effort to secretly deliver weapons, communications equipment and medical supplies to Syrian opposition forces. But this is about as close as the CIA has managed to get to Syria; for the most part, like its partner agencies in the US Intelligence Community, the Agency is “still largely confined to monitoring intercepted communications and observing the conflict from a distance”, says The Washington Post. As a result, US intelligence agencies are becoming increasingly dependent on their counterparts in Turkey, Jordan, and —most of all— Israel for reliable ground intelligence from inside Syria. A weekend article in English-language Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post says that Washington’s intelligence gap on Syria has prompted American spies to strengthen their ties with their Israeli colleagues. As a result, says the paper, Israeli-American intelligence and defense ties “have reached new heights” in recent months, mainly due to the Syrian civil war. The article cited one unnamed Israeli “defense official”, who said that Israel and the United States are “working very closely together and there is very close coordination”. It is worth noting that, in times past, the US would have acted as part of an intelligence triangle targeting Syria, incorporating herself, Turkey and Israel. But the recent termination of intelligence-sharing between Ankara and Tel Aviv, has meant that Washington is now acting more like a midway point, rather than the vertex of an intelligence triangle.