Saturday, June 29, 2013

US Intel: '30% of Syrian 'rebels' are of the extremist kind'

"...  On more substantive matters, few details are available of whether and in what quantities US arms are flowing to the opposition. As the CIA disposes of prepositioned stocks in Jordan and Turkey, intelligence analysts continue to warn of extremist infiltration into the opposition ranks. Some estimates run as high as 30%, with a high proportion being fighters from outside Syria, including Western Europe. The congress has been briefed by the CIA of an overall weakening of the Free Syrian Army's forces due to defection to the Islamist front as well as desertions. Obama himself remains keenly aware of these factors and, as related to us by NSC contacts, will act as a constraining force against those members of the Administration and Congress who favor a more activist approach.  On Iran, commentators are making the case for some form of outreach to the new Iranian president. These ideas have some currency among specialist NSC and State Department analysts, but our assessment is that the political dynamics will make it very difficult for the White House to soften its demands significantly – even if it wanted to. Whether the Administration will bring much creative energy to foreign policy in the remainder of Obama’s term is an open question. Leading research institutions likeCSIS are offering detailed alternatives to present anti-terrorist thinking. With Obama focused on his domestic legacy, it appears doubtful whether these ideas will make much progress."

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