BFP Exclusive- Paris Attacks: Western Intelligence’s Vision Blinded by Allah?

“…through its massacres in Paris, ISIS may now have dealt Assad the death blow.”

When the United States and Saudi Arabia decided to curb Iranian influence in the Middle East by embarking on a strategy that involved bolstering Sunni extremist forces, Prince Bandar bin Sultan and other Saudi officials told Washington not to worry about religious fundamentalists. Their message was plain and simple:

“We’ve created this movement, and we can control it. It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”[1]

At that time, the Bush administration began forging closer ties with the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood “to keep up the pressure” on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[2]

Four years later, the U.S. and its allies tried to capitalize on growing public discontent in Syria by launching an Operation Cyclone-style war against the Assad government. Western media played a decisive role in enabling the covert operations which inevitably led to an escalation of violence.[3]

While Western and Gulf media were trying to perpetuate the myth of the “moderate rebels,” U.S. intelligence knew full well that “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) predicted early on that the insurgents “will try to use the Iraqi territory as a safe haven” and pointed out that “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria.” According to the DIA, “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”[4]

As former DIA chief Michael Flynn emphasized in an interview with Al-Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan, the rise of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) came not as a surprise.[5]

What came as a surprise to U.S. intelligence was the resilience of the Assad government and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

Thanks to support from Russia, China, Iran and Hezbollah, Assad and the SAA are still standing after 30,000 foreign fighters from more than 100 countries have poured into Syria, turning parts of the country into a jihadist paradise.[6]

Reports of Western countries encouraging radicalized Islamists to join the fight cast doubt on claims that Western intelligence agencies have tried to stem the flow of jihadists to Syria.[7]

Moreover, NATO member Turkey has been instrumental in funneling fighters, weapons and all kinds of other supplies to anti-government forces in Syria, including ISIS.[8]

Parts of southern Turkey increasingly resemble Pakistan in the 1980s. The border region from Hatay to Gaziantep has already been dubbed the “Peshawar of the Middle East.”[9]

Turkey has paid a high price for its ill-fated policy vis-à-vis Syria and even the Saudis have gotten a taste of their own medicine,[10] but for the most part, the Salafis have thrown bombs at the “right” people.

Since the start of the conflict, terrorist attacks have become the new normal in Syria. When a car bomb rips through a residential area, Western media focuses on stressing that “the rebels have managed to infiltrate” an Assad stronghold, which “shows how the regime is losing ground.”[11]

Similarly, after ISIS suicide bombers recently targeted a busy residential district in southern Beirut, killing at least 43 people and wounding more than 200 in the worst attack in the city in decades, Western media turned the victims into Hezbollah human shields.[12]

When ISIS claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian passenger plane which claimed the lives of 224 people, the West didn’t even bother hiding its Schadenfreude and gloated over Russia paying the price for “Vladimir Putin’s military adventurism in Syria.”[13] British foreign secretary Philip Hammond told The New York Times that he hoped the attack would persuade the Russian President “to take a more flexible posture in the Syria talks.”[14]

But on November 13, one day before the Syria talks in Vienna and one day after the bombing of a “Hezbollah stronghold” in Beirut, “everything changed” because the terror reached a Western capital.

The world watched in horror as at least 129 people were killed and more than 300 injured in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks across Paris.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks and French President Francois Hollande left no doubt that this was "an act of war committed by Daesh that was prepared, organized and planned from outside [France]” with help from inside France.[15]

Investigators quickly found that the trail of the Paris killers leads to Belgium and Syria. Three of the seven suspected perpetrators are from Brussels’ Molenbeek district, which has “grown into a hub for jihadist networks,”[16] and according to French officials, six of the people directly involved in the attacks had spent time in Syria.[17]

The presumed mastermind of the Paris attacks, Belgian citizen Abdelhamid Abaaoud, returned to Belgium “at some point under the radar of authorities” after fighting with ISIS in Syria. He left again for Syria in January 2015 when Belgian police foiled a terrorist plot that he allegedly masterminded.[18] In February, the ISIS magazine Dabiq published an interview with Abaaoud, in which he boasted that Western intelligence agencies were neither able to prevent him from entering Belgium and establishing a terror cell nor from leaving the country:

“Allah blinded their vision and I was able to leave and come to Shām despite being chased after by so many intelligence agencies. All this proves that a Muslim should not fear the bloated image of the crusader intelligence. My name and picture were all over the news yet I was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them, and leave safely when doing so became necessary.”[19]

Another Belgian citizen who has emerged at the center of the Paris probe can tell a similar story. Salah Abdeslam lived only a few blocks away from Abaaoud in Molenbeek and spent time in the same prison. Belgian officials have no doubt that the two men knew each other.

Abdeslam also tried to travel to Syria earlier this year but he was one of the few would-be jihadists that were stopped by Turkish authorities. Despite his attempt to cross from Turkey into Syria, the Belgian government concluded that he didn’t pose a risk. A Belgian official said that “the investigation showed no signs of him actively going to terrorism.” Perhaps he was just trying to join the “moderate rebels” and he is really as innocent as his family claims.[20]

The first Paris killer who was been identified by French police is French national Ismael Omar Mostefai. Like Abdeslam, Mostefai caught the Turkish authorities’ attention when he tried to travel to Syria. But in contrast to Abdeslam, he was more successful.[21] Turkey notified France twice in December 2014 and June 2015 about Mostefai but only heard back after the Paris attacks.[22]

Either French authorities didn’t view Mostefai as a major threat or their vision was “blinded by Allah.”

This would also explain how someone managed to steal 180 detonators, 40 grenades and 10 blocks of 250 grams of plastic explosives from the Miramas military site near Marseille in July although France had been on high alert for terrorism since the Charlie Hebdo attacks.[23]

As the military website SOFREP revealed, some of the stolen explosives were later found when terrorists tried to blow up industrial targets in France. French and German police and intelligence were reportedly meeting in the weeks prior to the Paris attacks “to discuss an imminent pre-planned terrorist attack in Paris.” French security services were only wondering “whether or not the target would be soft (civilian) or hard (military, government, industrial) in nature.”[24] The bomb threat that forced Germany’s national football team to evacuate their Paris hotel on the morning of the attacks should have raised red flags.[25]

Instead of holding intelligence agencies to account for failing to prevent terrorist attacks at home while supporting terrorists in Syria and elsewhere, the response to the Paris attacks will likely entail even greater powers for security services and more support for the “Syrian rebels” under the guise of fighting ISIS.[26]

There is a certain irony in the fact that individuals like former senior CIA official Graham Fuller are now calling for the elimination of ISIS.[27] After all, Fuller has been one of the leading proponents of using jihadists against adversaries of the United States. He is credited with saying, “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”[28]

Fuller himself has been heavily involved in these operations.[29] Therefore, it came as a surprise when he called for ending Operation Cyclone 2.0 in Syria [30] and conceded that ISIS is “made in the USA.”[31]

After facilitating the rise of ISIS “in order to isolate the Syrian regime,” the U.S. and its allies are now stepping up their fight against the terrorist group. But as Graham Fuller noted, the real target is somebody else and the Paris attacks may prove very useful in this regard:

“Ironically the enormity of the ISIS/ al-Qaeda alternative to Asad had lately sparked some western hesitation in pursuing his overthrow, but now,  through its massacres in Paris, ISIS may now have dealt Asad the death blow.”[30]

# # # #

Christoph Germann- BFP Contributing Author & Analyst Christoph Germann is an independent analyst and researcher based in Germany, where he is currently studying political science. His work focuses on the New Great Game in Central Asia and the Caucasus region. You can visit his website here

[1] Seymour M. Hersh, “The Redirection,” The New Yorker, 5 March 2007:

[2] Jay Solomon, “To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers,” The Wall Street Journal, 25 July 2007:

[3] Sibel Edmonds, “What & When We Exposed, and the MSM- Quasi Alternative Culprits Who Fought Our Exposés,” Boiling Frogs Post, 29 August 2013:

[4] Brad Hoff, “2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State ‘in order to isolate the Syrian regime,’” Levant Report, 19 May 2015:

[5] Brad Hoff, “Former DIA Chief Michael Flynn Says Rise of Islamic State was “a willful decision” and Defends Accuracy of 2012 Memo,” Levant Report, 6 August 2015:

[6] Eric Schmitt and Somini Sengupta, “Thousands Enter Syria to Join ISIS Despite Global Efforts,” The New York Times, 26 September 2015:

[7] “Lethal exports - Germany admits to urging some Islamists to leave in past,” Deutsche Welle, 2 October 2014:

[8] “’IS’ supply channels through Turkey,” Deutsche Welle, 26 November 2014:

[9] Kadri Gursel, “Has Turkey Become the ‘Pakistan of the Middle East?,’” Al-Monitor, 24 September 2013:

[10] Kareem Shaheen, “Islamic State claims suicide bombing at Saudi Arabian mosque,” The Guardian, 6 August 2015:

[11] David Blair, “Syria car bomb kills 10 in Bashar al-Assad’s stronghold,” The Telegraph, 2 September 2015:

[12] Ben Norton, “Media Turn Civilian ISIS Victims in Beirut Into Hezbollah Human Shields,” FAIR, 13 November 2015:

[13] Simon Tisdall, “Sinai plane crash may show price of Putin’s military adventurism in Syria,” The Guardian, 5 November 2015:

[14] Somini Sengupta, “Invitation List Looms as Test for Syria Talks,” The New York Times, 9 November 2015:

[15] Tom Heneghan, “Hollande says Paris attacks ‘an act of war’ by Islamic State,” Reuters, 14 November 2015:

[16] Natalia Drozdiak and Julian E. Barnes, “Brussels District of Molenbeek Is Home to Some Suspects in Paris Attacks,” The Wall Street Journal, 16 November 2015:

[17] Jethro Mullen and Margot Haddad, “’France is at war,’ President Francois Hollande says after ISIS attack,” CNN, 17 November 2015:

[18] Benoit Faucon, Matthew Dalton, Stacy Meichtry and David Gauthier-Villars, “Paris Attacks Suspect Was Monitored by Western Allies Seeking to Kill Him,” The Wall Street Journal, 17 November 2015:

[19] Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn, “Key suspect in Paris attacks has been featured in Islamic State propaganda,” The Long War Journal, 16 November 2015:

[20] Ibid., Faucon et al.

[21] David Chazan and Rory Mulholland, “French suicide attacker ‘trained in Syria,’” The Telegraph, 15 November 2015:

[22] Orhan Coskun and Humeyra Pamuk, “Paris attacks: Turkey says it notified France twice about attacker, says senior official,” The Independent, 16 November 2015:

[23] Jamey Keaten, “200 detonators, explosives stolen from French military site,” The Associated Press, 7 July 2015:

[24] Jack Murphy, “Breaking: French and German Police Knew Paris Attack Was Coming a Month Prior,” SOFREP, 13 November 2015:

[25] Chuck Penfold, “Bomb threat forces Germany out of Paris hotel,” Deutsche Welle, 13 November 2015:

[26] Phil Stewart, “Exclusive: U.S. delivers ammunition to Syrian Arab fighters battling Islamic State,” Reuters, 15 November 2015:

[27] Graham E. Fuller, “ISIS- The Hour Has Struck,”, 14 November 2015:

[28] Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, “Our terrorists,” New Internationalist, 1 October 2009:

[29] Sibel Edmonds, “Turkish Intel Chief Exposes CIA Operations via Islamic Group in Central Asia,” Boiling Frogs Post, 6 January 2011:

[30] Graham E. Fuller, “Embracing Assad Is a Better Strategy for the U.S. Than Supporting the Least Bad Jihadis,” The Huffington Post, 29 September 2014:

[31] Ezgi Basaran, “Former CIA officer says US policies helped create IS,” Al-Monitor, 2 September 2014:

[32] Ibid., Fuller, 14 November 2015.

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  1. Freedom Fries (Wikipedia entry)

    Freedom fries is a political euphemism for French fries in the United States. The term came to prominence in 2003 when the then Republican Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, Bob Ney, renamed the menu item in three Congressional cafeterias in response to France’s opposition to the proposed invasion of Iraq. Although originally supported with several restaurants changing their menus as well, the term fell out of use due to declining support for the Iraq War.

    Twelve years on the French president is imitating Bush his 9/11 bullhorn speech and promising to eradicate terrorism. How one eradicates a noun or tactic still hasn’t made clear but it didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now. Let the bombs drop.

    You’ve made an excellent overview Christoph. If I may add one more aspect, remember how the US was berating it’s European NATO members for not spending enough on military? Especially during the first half of this year 2015, you’ll find a whole array of articles. Starting in January (Nato to ‘name and shame’ member countries over defence spending) to June (Most NATO states aren’t pulling their weight).
    Politically a hard sell when European countries are still butchering their healthcare, social security, education systems etc. under the pretense of imperative austerity.
    Now in the wake of the Paris attacks France and Britain have already pledged to substantially increase their defense spending. The Netherlands too (my country of residence) but in a mumbling manner (guess they still feel it won’t go over very well) and besides, next to the France and Britain we’re rather small. The other big one, Germany, already raised it budget earlier this year and got a pat on the back for being such a fine example (read serf).
    And so the ‘Daesh terrorists’ managed to do what European lackeys couldn’t sell to the population. Allah sure works in mysterious ways.

  2. CuChulainn says:

    more great work from Christoph, who does his homework and gives copious sources. just the facts, ma’am. thank you.
    as for Fuller, he surely realizes that the talk of attacking ISIS is just a pretext for attacking Assad–currently it is the turn of the French to pretend to attack ISIS, as the US has been pretending for over a year:
    do you suppose bandar might be running ISIS?
    the destruction of Syria is a stepping stone to the destruction of Hezbo, which represents the only inhibition on Israel’s psychosis

    a key dimension to the destruction of Syria that BFP has not emphasized

  3. CuChulainn says:

    re. the Mossad/CIA takeover of Hatay and other evidence of Turkish support for ISIS, one wonders if Turkey/Erdogan is in a similar position re. ISIS as Saudi re. Al Qaeda since 9/11–a potential target of blackmail or even regime change for carrying out policies at the behest of its masters

  4. Todd M Christiansen says:

    Great article here, good to see a rundown that includes all of the facts with little conspiratorial musing. Also nice to see an article that doesn’t make righteous conclusions about how this relates to refugee policy, etc.

  5. albatross0612 says:

    “The information revolution is leading to the rise of network forms of organization in which small, previously isolated groups can communicate, link up, and conduct coordinated joint actions as never before. This in turn is leading to a new mode of conflict — netwar — in which the protagonists depend on using network forms of organization, doctrine, strategy, and technology. Many actors across the spectrum of conflict — from terrorists, guerrillas, and criminals who pose security threats, to social activists who may not — are developing netwar designs and capabilities.” Straight from RAND CORPpublication that Fuller co-authored in 98′

  6. CuChulainn says:

    Wikistrike seems to be the go-to site for information on the Paris situation
    maybe a model for what Sibel is planning?

  7. Ronald Orovitz says:

    I’m getting a bad feeling that the phrase “blinded by Allah” will be exploited by the right and police state champions generally in order to argue for increased surveillance powers… A turn of phrase: “blinded by Allah” = “Snow(den) blinded”. Already prez candidates like Jeb! and Rubio are calling for restoring (as if it has really stopped) NSA’s dragnet.

    Also, another good ref. relating to how this may intersect with the migration crisis, as a “weapon of mass migration” – this review by Silvija Germek of a book by that title by one Kelly M. Greenhill…

  8. CuChulainn says:

    off-guardian is an English lg website that seems to be doing a good job on this–they published the Pepé piece that is not in Asia Times

  9. While it’s tragic so many perish as collateral damage – the hysteria level is back, xenophobia has been raised- yet from my long observations- the level of awareness to this heinous tactic is a little bit higher as well.

  10. While it’s tragic so many perish as collateral damage – the hysteria level is back, xenophobia has been raised- yet from my long term observations- the level of awareness to this heinous tactic is a little bit higher as well.

  11. albatross0612 says:

    Marine Corps General John Allen has been quite involved with NATO and ISIA-Z, he is a civilian now but many may remember him being caught up in the General Petreaus Scandle and he retired early when he wa supposed to take command of NATO.

  12. I’m trying to summarize the official Syria/ISIS narrative for some friends so as to highlight its absurdity, but I want to do it right, with James Corbett-esque standards of accuracy, so if anybody can suggest any place where I’m distorting or overstating any parts of the official story I’d appreciate it:

    Official narrative: We’re supporting civilized moderate rebels who kill people and blow stuff up and, OK, *occasionally* cut the hearts out of Syrian soldiers and eat them but who are NOT terrorists (because reason), in order to overthrow a government in Syria that MUST GO (because reason). In the past these things had to be secret sneaky dirty covert operations that we would officially deny but we realized that nobody gave a shit anyway so we can just serve them up on some sort of humanitarian bullshit platter and pretend it’s a normal legal foreign policy-ish thing to do.

    Our mercenaries are not to be confused with the ISIS mercenaries even though they’re in there doing the same thing, and even though our mercenaries often join ISIS and also give them weapons and supplies which they got from us. The thing to remember is that ours are good and moderate and ISIS is bad and extreme and any similarities of goals, actions, personnel, and supporters is a meaningless coincidence and should be ignored.

    We are definitely not supporting our enemy ISIS, which is a group using our equipment, our weapons, and our training to pursue our goals in Syria, but yes OK our ally Turkey is supporting them, and so are our other allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar; we seriously don’t like it but we don’t do anything about it because reason.

    We are seriously trying to fight ISIS but until recently we couldn’t find them at all except accidentally when we repeatedly dropped supplies that they ended up with accidentally. We went out to bomb them but mostly just destroyed Assad’s infrastructure but that was an accident and a coincidence. Hey. It’s tough out there. It’s hard to tell one thing from another in the desert.

    Anyway we can find ISIS now finally because Russia found them and started bombing their large and extremely obvious oil convoys. Turns out they are easy to spot in their enormous convoys especially with our amazing technology. Sure, it looks obvious in hindsight but that’s unfair. It has nothing to do with our ally Turkey buying all that oil.

    Our ISIS-oil-buying ally Turkey shot down an ISIS-fighting Russian jet in Syrian territory, so the previous story about Russian jets bombing ISIS oil convoys has to be put into the memory hole. The new story is Russian jets have not been doing that. The press is able to report this with a straight face because duh, the old story went into the memory hole and they simply can’t remember it. It is not their fault. It is yesterday’s news! The press can also simultaneously report that the Russian jet went down in Syria, and that it was shot down for violating Turkish air space, without noting the contradiction. This is because we have a free and independent press that is free to report whatever the government independently tells them to.

  13. CuChulainn says:
  14. I thought this should be brought up somewhere. These ex drone pilots put their ass on the line to bring us
    the truth about this terrorism promoting drone program, which the tip tops no doubt realize produce terrorism, not stop it, and this is how the terrorist US government responds. They lock their bank accounts and credit cards.

    What strikes me most is that this tactic works. These people are trained to lay down their lives for something they are told is right, but then so many are afraid of crap like this. It is bizarre.

    “For having the courage to come forward and expose the drone program for the indiscriminate murder that it is, 4 vets are under attack from the government they once served. The U.S. Government failed to deter them through threats of criminal prosecution, and clumsy attempts to intimidate their families. Now four former Air Force drone operators-turned-whistleblowers have had their credit cards and bank accounts frozen, according to human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack. “My drone operators went public this week and now their credit cards and bank accounts are frozen,” Radack lamented on her Twitter feed … This was done despite the fact that none of them has been charged with a criminal offense…”

    • “What strikes me most is that this tactic works. These people are trained to lay down their lives for something they are told is right, but then so many are afraid of crap like this. It is bizarre.”

      I don’t think its bizarre at all. It isn’t just money, they have obvious reason to fear for their families. Its one thing to put your self in the cross hairs, but I think all of us want to retreat when we feel that our families are threatened.

      • And when other families are threatened?

        • I think it takes a special kind of courage to step outside of one’s fear, not only for the safety of one’s family, but also fears of the loss of one’s comfort, support network, lifestyle, in order to speak out about the threats to the families of others. (Especially when those threats often came through their own hands?!) Even when the respective threats are often so vastly different, i.e. weird attempts at intimidating family members and freezing assets versus the constant threat of a drone attack wiping out your kids.
          I know there are others who want to speak out but haven’t made that step yet. So I think its imperative that we support those who do, in the hope of encouraging those who want to. I think most people will only find courage collectively, because its awfully hard to stand out alone.

          • Not to mention the courage to admit that they were convinced to do something they felt wrong about doing, convinced for money, for patriotism, etc. That takes a special courage too, one I really hope we can all find

          • Yeah, but if they dont speak out it only becomes worse and the danger ever more present and pervasive.

            And if they feel so guilty, why continue to contribute to it with silence?

            I am now reminded of something I was thinking of back when people were asking… It was on that roundtable with Peter, Corbett and Sibel… Why do people not give a damn. One theory was that they want instant gratification, the easy reward. I do not think that is it. People will work their ass off for a boat or a house or a car. I think the real issue is the value system. People are taught from an early age to fit in with their clique or more general society or whatever, instead of being taught to think and act independently. It is an appearances based ego rather than an actuallity based ego that is formed. Society has a huge trend toward dealing with apperances and not sources. We see it with medicine with the drugging away of symptoms instead of generating cures. We see it with war, where we do feel good bombing which promotes terror instead of stopping it. We see it with politics where we vote for the shiny new candidate that will screw us just liks the last one… Just about anywhere you look you can find an appearances based system.

            Religion is a good example too with Bentley Jesus.

            You are right. These dudes should be supported to the fullest. If only more support could be gathered for them and their brand of truthful courge, or rage, whichever it may be. Rage can easily supplement courage.

            If only a society could be built around their type of values. What is right vs what looks right.

            They do serve as perfect martyrs already is the interesting thing. Why is it that people are so attrcted to things like terrorism, but not whistle blower ism? The CIA goes around getting dupes to serve as terrorists, and these dupes just love it. But for some reason getting people to peacefully air our the trash of a corrupt system is a mission not so attractive, even though there is no violence involved and no moral ambiguity either.

  15. @ A Name, I agree. And, I wonder how much of it is that people are more attracted to terrorism or that’s just about all the media shows them? How much msm coverage have these guys received? I rarely watch or listen to them so I have no idea. I know there was some NBC online articles early on, I think even before the open letter they put out. (And, oh my, read the comments on those. Wow)

  16. Open letters?

    On that note, how would we support these whistleblower drone pilots? They have lawyers and such, but is there anything to add?

    • That’s a good question. My first instinct would be to say we need to make the information as widely spread as possible, that they have spoken out, and that they are now being persecuted for it. Make more Americans aware of the treatment of whistleblowers. But, we’ve seen how effective trying to spread the info about Hastert has been. I don’t know. I’ll see if I can ask one of them what they believe we should do. Here is a site I stumbled on a couple of days ago, maybe you’ve already seen it, but it has a copy of the open letter they wrote to the President and others. Also links to a petition. (I’m not big on petitions to our current govt, but there you have it.) I’ll throw out the warning that the sidebars on this site have pics of people killed in drone attacks.

  17. There is a certain irony in the fact that individuals like former senior CIA official Graham Fuller are now calling for the elimination of ISIS. >>

    Who knows, perhaps Fullers also can become Pauls. Here is a quote from his last piece on terror in Paris.

    ” The present territory held by ISIS must revert to the state on whose territory it has operated. Yes, that means, for now, Syria’s Asad regime.

    Over many decades Asad’s Syria was simply one more unpleasant regional state, but far from the worst. Even then, however, the US always sought to covertly overthrow him. But Asad took on his truly vicious and ruthless character in his reactions to the domestic uprisings against him beginning in the Arab Spring in 2011. Yet even today Syrians are divided over who represents the greater threat, Asad or his enemies. Whatever the discussion, by now the blood on Asad’s hands symbolically demand early forfeiture of his leadership—the details of transition to be negotiated. “

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