No More Military Adventures for NATO in Syria or Yemen

Some sort of road map was charted by US and NATO intelligence chiefs meeting for the first time in the eleven months of the Arab Revolts at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, a few miles west of Washington, D.C. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s exclusive sources disclose that in three days of deliberations in the last week of September, the participants agreed that the West had missed out on the uprisings out of misconceived expectations and wrong turns thereafter.
(See the first article in this issue.)
In the light of those mistakes, the conference formulated recommendations for keeping key Western leaders, chiefly US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, on track in future developments of the Arab Revolts:
1. Following the dangerous consequences of NATO's military operation in Libya, Western governments must be very careful indeed of embarking on military intervention in Syria – especially in light of the current state of play there.
The intelligence experts conferring in Langley judged that to date, the Syrian President Bashar Assad had managed to contain the uprising against him and keep his armed forces intact.
They offered three more reasons for distancing NATO members from military involvement in Syria:


The uprising against Assad is all but over, but for reciprocal assassinations


A. The Assad regime has virtually cleared Syrian streets of demonstrations in seven months of savage repression. However, several hundred rebels, as well officers and men who deserted the army, remain active in pockets, mainly in Homs and the North near the Turkish and Lebanese borders. In the past two weeks, the contest between the regime and the opposition has degenerated into reciprocal hits against public figures and opposition activists.
The US and NATO should keep their hands clean of this bloody struggle or risk getting sucked into a messy situation akin to the aftermath of the Libyan operation.
B. Turkey must not be encouraged to send its army into Syria to pursue its planned seizure of protected buffer zones for sheltering rebels on the run and providing them with medical aid and weapons supplied by Saudi intelligence for fighting the Assad regime.
Since May, this plan has come up a number of times in Turkish conversations with the White House in Washington and NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Wednesday, Oct. 5, the Turkish army launched a large nine-day mobilization maneuver in the Hatay region on the Syrian border. Assad is no doubt watching the Turkish units eagle-eyed to detect the slightest preparations for crossing the border into Syria, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources report.


Reliance on Turkey was a let-down


C. The Obama administration's failure to attain US objectives in the Arab uprisings was due very largely to its reliance on Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. His claim to a stabilizing leadership role in the Middle East as a bridgehead for the West to attain influence over moderate Islam was found unacceptable by most Arabs.
Even the squabbling military, tribal and religious groups of Libya were as one in rejecting the pretensions of Erdogan and his foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu. They saw only an unwanted non-Arab ladder for pursuing Turkey's imperial ambitions in the Arab world.
Erdogan met with the same resistance in Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Langley conclave therefore advised the US and NATO leaders to drop their reliance on the Turkish leader for advancing their goals in the region.
2. Algeria's leaders must show their people a real effort to expand democracy.
The intelligence chiefs meeting in Langley found that the pro-Western regime of Abdelaziz Bouteflika had been placed in dire peril by the breakup of neighboring Libya into warring factions.
They made two recommendations: One was to lean hard on President Bouteflika to start instituting democratic reforms so as to give Algeria’s population of 36.3 million a sense of participation in their country's government.
The pressure must come not only externally but also from the inside. And so they advised enlisting Algerian Chief of Staff of the Navy, Maj. Gen. Malek Necib to the effort. The country would then see the national politicians and military united in the push to set the country on the road to greater democracy.


Yemeni violence must be addressed before it reaches East Africa and the Persian Gulf


3. The intelligence chiefs concluded that the Yemen crisis was sending dangerous waves across the entire Middle East – its destabilizing impact radiating as far as the Persian Gulf and eastern and northern Africa, especially Somalia.
They urged an immediate arrangement with Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whether for him to stay or to go, as urgent enough to take priority even over the Syrian crisis.
Without a deal among Yemen's rival parties to end the fighting, the South would quickly secede to form an entity under the strong influence of Al Qaeda, taking with it the key Red Sea port of Aden. The Al-Shabab organization, its operational arm in Somalia, would win a logistical base on the Red Sea.
The Western spymasters agreed on the basis of their intelligence input that the Al-Shabab's abrupt withdrawal from Mogadishu in the last week of August was no more than a tactical retreat as its leaders claimed.
The Islamists have since regrouped in eastern and western Somalia along the borders of Kenya and Uganda.
They are believed to be planning to tear off parts of Somalia, Kenya and Uganda to build a new Islamist state, just as AQIM is planning to amputate southern Yemen.
If their plans comes to fruition, Al Qaeda will control a territorially contiguous region ranging from Libya through northern Somalia and Kenya with access by sea to Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula.

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