Syria Reorganizes Intelligence Services

[Washington Times] Richard Sale - Syria's foreign intelligence operations have been transferred from the heavy-handed military intelligence agency, known as the Mukhabarat, to Syria's General Intelligence Agency (GI), which formerly handled domestic matters and now oversees relations with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Richard Norton, a Levant specialist at Boston University, explained: "What Bashar [Assad] is doing is sidelining the old Ba'athist guard in military intelligence and replacing them with civilians loyal to himself." David Schenker, a Levant expert at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, "Syria runs hot and cold. When they are interested in improving relations or pleasing us, they toss us a bone or they look to protect their flank." He said that the day after the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, Syrian intelligence delivered a high-value target to U.S. operatives in the hope of deflecting popular outrage at Syria's alleged responsibility for the murder. U.S. officials say Syria still permits some Arab suicide bombers to transit into Iraq and controls much of Lebanon's economy by means of counterfeiting, money laundering, and drug trafficking.

2009-09-25 08:00:00

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