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Obama to U.S. intelligence: Oust Syria’s Assad in 2012 (WORLD TRIBUNE) WASHINGTON 05/29/12)Source: http://www.worldnewstribune.com/2012/05/29/obama-to-u-s-intelligence-oust-syrias-assad-in-2012/ WORLD TRIBUNE WORLD TRIBUNE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
WASHINGTON — For the first time since the Sunni revolt in March 2011, the United States has begun operations against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Western diplomatic sources said the administration of President Barack Obama has ordered the U.S. intelligence community to ensure the ouster of Assad in 2012.

The sources said Obama, urged by allies that range from France to Saudi Arabia, was persuaded that without U.S. intervention, Al Qaida would emerge as the leading force in Syria.

“The assessment today is very different from that of even a month ago,” a Western diplomat said. “The revolt is in full swing with Al Qaida becoming a very powerful element and winning huge popularity on the streets of Syria. It is no longer a question of whether Assad will survive, but who will succeed him.”

The sources said the CIA and State Department were coordinating with a range of Sunni rebel groups. They said this included the Free Syrian Army, long opposed by the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated opposition as well its sponsors in Qatar and Turkey.

“The game is on the ground,” the diplomat said. “The political opposition in exile has no control or even influence in Syria, while FSA is seen as active, even if that is not really the case.”

The sources suggested that Washington was already involved in major operations against the Assad regime. The operations were said to have included a failed FSA attempt to poison the regime leadership, particularly Assad’s powerful brother-in-law, Assaf Chawkat.

Under the new policy, the Obama administration would seek to bolster the mostly secular FSA with weapons, command and control and training. The CIA would seek to ensure that FSA commanders were not working with Al Qaida or Iran.

The sources said the main requirement of FSA and other rebel militias included surface-to-air missiles as well as anti-tank guided missiles. They said the goal was to provide Syrian rebels with so-called stand-off weapons that would hamper Assad military operations in large parts of Syria, particularly the northern border with Turkey and the southern border with Jordan.

“This would create safe havens for the rebels, and from there U.S. options would significantly increase,” another diplomatic source familiar with the U.S. effort said.

At the same time, the State Department has been working on diplomatic options to oust Assad. One plan called for Russian support for an interim government without Assad but include some of his senior aides.

“The plan calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Mr. Assad’s government in place,” the New York Times reported on May 26. (Copyright © 2012 East West Services, Inc. 05/29/12)

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