Graham Fuller, former vice president of the National Intelligence Council of the Central Intelligence Agency, wrote an article on his personal site and republished on The Levant News, criticizing the recent US-British-French strikes against Syria, saying that the United States does not want to end the war in Syria. Fuller said in his article:
The Trump administration has just delivered several dozen military strikes against Syria purportedly aimed at chemical production and storage facilities. But the strikes did not meaningfully change facts on the ground. does the US really want the war in Syria to end?
In principle yes, but only under its own rigid terms which call for an end to Asad’s rule and the elimination of Russian and Iranian power in Syria. None of this is within the realm of reality as Asad is close to restoring his control over the whole country(It’s worth noting that whatever the issues at stake in Syria, Russia and Iran were legally invited by the Syrian government to provide military assistance.
The US on the other hand was not invited to intervene in Syria and on legal grounds is fighting in Syria “illegally” ;which pens the second question: what then is in fact the US fighting for? Washington has sought to isolate or overthrow the Assad regime, father and son, for over forty years; it perceived them as representing staunch (secular) anti-colonial Arab nationalism, resistance to US goals, and a refusal to bow to Israel’s ever expanding borders , and Washington’s policies have all along been heavily driven by Israel’s own regional agenda. Yet the reality is that Washington can no longer single-handedly determine the strategic shape of the Middle East.
Another reality is the presence of Russia as a diplomatic and strategic power in the Middle East.
It has a history of several hundred years presence there, long before the US or even Britain; even under the Russian Tsars Moscow was the official protector of Eastern Orthodox Christians in the Levant. After a hiatus of some two decades after the fall of the USSR and the collapse of the Russian economic order, Russia is now back again as a player, that fact will not change and Russia will not be going anywhere. Besides, Iran, now gradually normalizing its relations with most of the world, will also be resuming its place as a major Middle Eastern player.
Yet Iran remains a point of obsession with Washington- equally seen as a “rogue” state- and here again reflecting Israel’s own determination to strategically dominate the Middle East itself. Iran views itself primarily not as a Shiite state but as a Muslim state- one intent on further blocking western interventionism in the Middle East. And it does not believe that monarchies represent the wave of the Middle Eastern future.
So the question remains: does Washington truly seek an end to the war- a war that it cannot win? Or will it fight on in a losing, devastating situation in a country to which it was not invited, to seek “regime change” in yet another state with all the subsequent chaos, instability, and openings for the region’s most radical jihadi forces?
And are we ourselves to be manipulated as instruments for the achievement of local Israeli and Saudi strategic goals in the region?
Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official, author of numerous books on the Muslim World; including “Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an American’s crisis of conscience in Pakistan”