Good. Keeps the muslims occupied. But leave the US out of it.
U.S. Intelligence Official Says Syrian War Could Last for Years
By ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI
ASPEN, Colo. - A senior American intelligence official on Saturday warned
that the Syrian conflict could last "many, many months to multiple years,"
and described a situation that would most likely worsen regardless of
whether the Syrian leader, President Bashar al-Assad, fell.
The comments by David R. Shedd, the deputy director of the Defense
Intelligence Agency, were one of the strongest public warnings about how the
civil war in Syria has deteriorated, and he seemed to imply that the
response from the United States and its allies had so far been lacking.
Mr. Shedd suggested that in addition to strengthening the more secular
groups of the fractious Syrian opposition - which the Obama administration
has promised to arm with weapons and ammunition - the West would have to
directly confront more radical Islamist elements. But he did not say how
that could be accomplished.
"The reality is that, left unchecked, they will become bigger," Mr. Shedd
told the Aspen Security Forum, an annual meeting on security issues. "Over
the last two years they've grown in size, they've grown in capability, and
ruthlessly have grown in effectiveness."
At the forum, of which The New York Times is a sponsor, Mr. Shedd described
two different scenarios for Syria's future, both of which he said portended
far more violence and killing.
"If Bashar Assad were to succeed, he will be a more ruthless leader who will
live with a legacy of tens of thousands of his civilians killed under him,"
he said. President Obama declared in mid-2011 that Mr. Assad had to leave
Mr. Shedd outlined an equally grim portrait of a spreading Sunni-Shiite
sectarian conflict if Mr. Assad's government fell or he was killed.
"If he loses and goes to an enclave inside there, I think there will be
ongoing civil war for years to come," he said, noting that more radical
elements like the Nusra Front would fight to control parts of the country.
"They will fight for that space. They're there for the long haul."
Mr. Shedd offered a sobering assessment of America's ability to draw
distinctions among an opposition that he said numbered about 1,200 groups.
After months of internal debate, the Obama administration in June announced
a plan to provide direct military support to the Syrian rebels, but so far
no arms have arrived.
The effort to support the opposition has also been hampered by the inability
of the United States and various Arab countries - including Saudi Arabia,
Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - to agree on how quickly to act, which
opposition groups to support, and which weapons to give them.
Mr. Shedd, a 31-year intelligence veteran, seemed to suggest that modest
interventions were unlikely to make a significant difference at a time when
Mr. Assad's army has been reclaiming territory on the battlefield, with the
support of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, and when the opposition is bitterly
divided, while among the rebels the Islamists are resurgent.
"My concern is that it could go on for a long time," Mr. Shedd said, voicing
concern that the civilian casualties, refugee flows and internal dislocation
would increase. "It is in large measure a stalemate."
Mr. Shedd said he was particularly concerned that the Syrian revolution,
unlike the other Arab uprisings, was far more likely to explode than
implode, and that Jordan and Iraq would be caught in the conflict and
His publicly expressed concerns about Jordan contrasted with the
administration's usual, almost ritualized declarations of confidence that
King Abdullah II of Jordan could emerge with his country, one of America's
strongest allies in the region, intact.
Mr. Shedd also played down reported dispute between the Nusra Front and Al
Qaeda's arm in Iraq over which one controls the more radical elements in
Syria. But he expressed concerns that the Qaeda branch would strengthen its
position inside Iraq, after having been largely decimated by the American
troop surge there in 2007.
"Al Qaeda Iraq will emerge stronger as a result of its experience inside of
Syria," he said.
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