- What's happening in Syria has all the hallmarks of a
classic, 1950s-era, Cold War-style CIA coup d'etat scheme.
- First, on March 7 a gaggle of demonstrators-no more than
20 to 30, according to The New York Times on March 8-was squelched by Syrian
police, who arrested not only the demonstrators but swooped up a "junior
diplomat from the American Embassy," says the Times. "The United
States government protested the detention of the American diplomat to the
Syrian government, a spokesman for the embassy told The Associated Press."
Now the question is: what was a "junior diplomat" from the United
States doing there in the first place. Could he have been from the CIA?
(Syria is wondering the same thing.)
- Second, the Bush administration is going to announce
sanctions against Syria this week, thanks to a law passed by Congress demanding
them. On March 12, The Washington Post reported:
- The new law has two key parts. First, it requires the
administration to ban the export of any dual-use goods that could be channeled
into the production of weapons of mass destruction. Some exemptions will
be made for products that might be included, such as communications gear,
congressional sources said.
- Second, the act requires the administration to pick two
of six punitive measures. The White House has indicated to congressional
officials that it is leaning toward picking more than two. The main new
sanctions will be economic, such as banning U.S. exports to Syria except
for humanitarian goods such as food and medicine, congressional and administration
officials said. Washington may also block financial transactions by Damascus.
- In addition, the administration is expected to prohibit
aircraft owned or operated by Syria from flying to the United States or
using American airspace, a token measure since no Syrian planes fly anywhere
near the United States, U.S. officials said.
- The most problematic and debated step proposed by the
act calls for banning U.S. businesses from investing or operating in Syria,
congressional and administration officials said. U.S. oil companies, including
ConocoPhillips Co. and Devon Energy Corp., have business interests in Syria.
- And finally, on March 14 The New York Times gave prominent
coverage to Kurdish riots in northeastern Syria, which spread to Damascus.
Jalal Talabani, the longtime asset of U.S. and Israeli intelligence, now
a leading force in Iraq's new make-believe government, has close ties to
Syrian Kurds, and it strains credulity to think that the Kurdish unrest
in Syria is spontaneous. Reports the Times:
- Unrest set off by Kurdish demonstrators demanding minority
rights spread across northeastern Syria on Saturday, with Kurdish leaders
saying up to 15 people were killed and scores wounded over two days as
the riot police put down the rare protests with gunfire.
- The unrest spread to Damascus, where several hundred
riot officers wearing helmets and bearing plastic shields were stationed
around Damascus University and in a predominately Kurdish suburb. Students
and Kurdish residents of the suburb had staged sit-ins to protest events
in the north, human rights activists said.
- Syrian Kurds, inspired by the changes next door in Iraq-where
the Kurds are seeking to enshrine their distinct identity in a new constitution-have
become increasingly vocal in demanding minority rights. The government
suspects them of seeking autonomy or even trying to break away to join
- So, here we are in the 21st century, and it looks like
the CIA is still at it, overthrowing governments it doesn't like. I'd call
for a congressional inquiry, but Congress is in this up to its collective,