by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
July 31, 2012
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an
award-winning author and geopolitical analyst. He is the author of The
Globalization of NATO (Clarity Press) and a forthcoming book The War on
Libya and the Re-Colonization of Africa. He has also contributed to several
other books ranging from cultural critique to international relations.
He is a Sociologist and Research
Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), a contributor
at the Strategic Cultural Foundation (SCF), Moscow, and a member of the
Scientific Committee of Geopolitica, Italy. He has also addressed the Middle
East and international relations issues on several TV news networks
including Al Jazeera, teleSUR, and Russia Today. His writings have been
translated into more than twenty languages.
In 2011 he was awarded the First
National Prize of the Mexican Press Club for his work in international
There is much more to the conflict in Syria than meets the eye. Syria is
currently the scene of a cold war between the U.S., NATO, Israel, and the Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC) on one side and Russia, China, Iran, and the
Resistance Bloc on the other hand.
Amidst the fighting between the Syrian
government and anti-government forces, an intense intelligence war has also
been taking place.
Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundes Nachrichtendienst
(BND, Federal Intelligence Service), has been pointing its finger at
Al-Qaeda for the bombings in Syria. This, however, has the effect of hiding
and detracting the role that the intelligence services of the U.S. and its
allies have played.
By crediting Al-Qaeda, the Bundes
Nachrichtendienst is helping get Washington and its allies off the hook.
Albeit Al-Qaeda is far more than just a U.S. intelligence asset, the
organization and label of Al-Qaeda is a catch-all term that is used to
camouflage the operations of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other
affiliated intelligence services.
Syrian intellectuals and scientists have also been reportedly assassinated
in Damascus. Like in Iraq and Iran, it is probably the work of Israel’s Mossad
and part of Tel Aviv’s policy of crippling scientific and
technological advancement in enemy states.
Informed sources in Washington have already
clarified that Israel is helping the Free Syrian Army and actively
participating in the intelligence war against Syria. An unnamed U.S. official
has confirmed to David Ignatius that both the CIA and Mossad are
involved in Syria. 
In his own words:
“Scores of Israeli intelligence officers are
also operating along Syria’s border, though they are keeping a low
A Qatari defector in Venezuela has also been
reported to have divulged that the Qataris have been outsourced intelligence
work against Syria by the CIA and Mossad.
The Bombing of the
Syrian National Security Headquarters
...and its Crisis Unit in Damascus
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the bombing of the
Syrian National Security Headquarters in the northwest Damascene
neighborhood of Al-Rawda on July 18, 2012.
Very little is actually known about what
happened exactly. Moreover, Syrian television and media did not show scenes
of the explosion as people have become accustomed to. This may be due to the
security-based nature of the bombing location.
Key members of Syria’s security and military command structure, Dawoud
Rajiha, Assef Shawkat, and Hassan Turkmani, were all killed on July 18.
Rajiha was the Syrian defence minister, deputy prime minister, and deputy
commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces.
Assef Shawkat was the Syrian deputy defence
minister and the husband of Bashar Al-Assad’s older sister Bushra. Hassan Turkmani was the Syrian assistant vice-president, head of Syria’s crisis
management operations, and the army general that was formerly minister of
defence from 2004 to 2009.
Hisham Ikhtiyar (Bakhtiar/Bakhtyar), the chief
of the Syrian National Security Bureau, who was also hurt by the bombing,
would also die from the injuries he sustained two days later on July 20.
These men all formed what was called the Crisis Unit.
A moment should also be taken to note that the biographic background of
these dead high-ranking Syrian officials disproves the allegations that the
Syrian government is an Alawite regime.
While Skawkat was an Alawite, Raijha was a Greek
Orthodox Christian, Ikhtiyar a Sunni Muslim, and Turkmani was both an ethnic
Turkoman and Sunni Muslim.
The Killing of Crisis
...was executed by a Foreign Intelligence Service
Saudi sources have taken the opportunity to report that the Syrian officials
were killed by Maher Al-Assad, the commander of the Syrian Republican Guard
and President Al-Assad’s younger brother, because of a rift between them
that saw the general’s supporting a political solution over a combative
Pakistani sources, claiming to be receiving
direct reports from the perpetrators of the July 18 bombing, contradicted
the report by saying Maher Al-Assad was also a target and wounded during the
The Pakistani source published the following:
“Everyone came in time, but Maher Al-Assad
did not show up. Two men responsible for the mission waited for some
time and pressed the remote control button as the dreaded general took
his seat,” the [Syrian Free Army] source said.
“Our men filmed the video from a safe distance which would be made
public at an appropriate time,” he revealed to this correspondent [that
is, Naveed Ahmad]. One of the two daredevils was an employee of the
government and worked in the very office the device was planted while
the other was an outsider, according to the [Syrian Free Army] source.
The [Free Syrian Army] sources said Maher had brought his best friend
Ghassan Bilal to the meeting as well. Maher al-Assad, who was never seen
in the funeral of the key security aides assassinated in the attack, was
in fact severely injured and according to a source de-capacitated.
What the Pakistani source discloses is
unreliable for several reasons.
One of them is that the credibility of the Free
Syrian Army (FSA) is extremely questionable. The Free Syrian Army has an
undeniable track-record for shoddy propaganda and lying. Syria has also
rejected claims about the Free Syrian Army’s involvement and the assertions
that the bomb was remote-controlled.
Lebanon’s Al-Manar, which is Hezbollah’s media
network, has reported that there were two bombs and the first was actually
dismantled by Assef Shawkat before the second one exploded.
This was actually the second attempt to kill this gathering of Syrian
military, security, and intelligence officials.
The out of control Free
Syrian Army, whose reign of terror has seen brutal and senseless attacks on
the civilian population and various acts of lawlessness and terrorism, had
claimed on May 20 to have murdered these same Syrian officials earlier, as
well as Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar and Baath Party leader Mohammad Saeed Bkheitan. 
The claims of the Free Syrian Army turned out to
be false the first time as the alleged assassinated Syrian officials
appeared on television and denied the SFA’s claims. This time, however,
there was no immediate credit taken and there was silence about the murders.
The Free Syrian Army was most probably bypassed by the U.S. and its allies for
this targeted attack.
Instead of outsourcing the attack to the Free
Syrian Army, the operation was probably directly conducted either by the
intelligence agency of a NATO or GCC state or a consortium of intelligence
agencies trying to topple the Syrian government.
A Damascene Operation
The attack on the Syrian National Security Headquarters in Al-Rawda was a
carefully coordinated event that was synchronized with the assault on
Damascus by the various armed groups operating under the umbrella and banner
of the Free Syrian Army.
It is clear that the U.S. and its allies more or
less used the same playbook of tactics in Damascus that were used in 2011 to
topple the Jamahiriya government in Tripoli. Both are modern reincarnations
of the infamous
Operation Ajax, which was an intelligence operation launched
in 1953 by the U.S. and British governments to topple the democratic
government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossageh in Iran.
Washington and London installed a brutal and
repressive dictatorship under Mohammed-Reza Shah in place of Dr. Mossadegh’s
government and Iran was transformed from a constitutional monarchy into a de
facto absolute monarchy.
The aim of the attack on high-ranking Syrian officials, especially important
figures from the military and security apparatus that has been the backbone
of the Syrian regime, was two-pronged. The attack’s aim was to cripple
Syria’s command structure with the objective of disorganizing resistance to
anti-government forces and creating internal panic within the hierarchy of
the Syrian government and military.
This psychological blow was supposed to lead to
fear, defections, and betrayal as anti-government forces attacked the gates
of the Syrian capital.
The mainstream media, in terms of what scholar
Edward Said called “image
making” experts, also played a supportive role in the U.S.-sponsored siege of
Damascus.  Securing a monopoly over information and air waves has also
been a part of the intelligence war and a goal of the U.S. and its allies.
This is why the signals of Syrian broadcasters have been banned from the
Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) and Nilesat satellite
This is aimed at preventing Syria from
countering the claims of the U.S. and its allies and proxies.
By the same token the U.S. and the EU are also
trying to cut and block Iranian stations, which are challenging the accounts
of the mainstream media in NATO and GCC states. This is also the reason why
the U.S. and British media very decidedly condemned the Iranian, Russian, and
Chinese medias in their news coverage of the Syrian crisis, which challenge
the tide of misinformation from the declining networks of CNN, Fox News,
France 24, and Al Jazeera. 
Like the original Operation Ajax in 1953, in which the state-run British
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) took part, the mainstream media broadcasts
from NATO and GCC states have been synchronized to shape the events on the
The media war intensified when the
anti-government forces launched their attack of Damascus. The aim was to
fuel panic and fear with the hope of getting the Syrian government and the
Syrian military to scatter and lose hope instead of facing the
The ultimate objectives are to demoralize the
Syrian population and to weaken the Syrian government’s domestic support.
The media outlets of NATO and GCC states insinuated that President Assad and
his family fled Damascus to Latakia and would seek asylum in the Russian
Federation.  Again, the aims were to cause panic and both the
governments in Syria and Russia rejected the false claims. According to
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Assad was “not even thinking about”
fleeing to Russia. 
This was a repeat of British Foreign Secretary
William Hague’s 2011 lie that Muammar Qaddafi had fled from Libya to
This behavior also falls into line with British
Prime Minister David Cameron’s false claim that Vladimir Putin had told him
that President Assad had to step down. 
A New Saudi
Intelligence Boss: Return of Prince “Bandar Bush”
Shortly after the bombing of the Syrian National Security Headquarters, a
July 19 royal decree was enacted in Riyadh to replace Prince Muqrin (Mogren)
bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud with Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud as the
director-general of the external intelligence agency of the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, Al-Istikhbarat Al-Amah (General Intelligence).
Since 2005, Prince Bandar has been the secretary-general of the Saudi
Arabian National Security Council, but his new appointment has made heads
turn and is being used to infer that Saudi Arabia has a far more aggressive
What the appointment reflects is that Saudi
Arabia is fully in the service of the U.S. in its intelligence wars against
Syria and Iran and that Washington’s men in Riyadh have a firm grip over
Saudi Arabia’s intelligence, security, and military apparatus.
In the words of the Saudi pundit Jamal
Khashoggi and the chief of the Bahrain-based Al-Arab network:
“Bandar is quite aggressive, not at all like
a typical cautious Saudi diplomat. If the aim is to bring Bashar down
quick and fast, he will have a free hand to do what he thinks
Prince Bandar, the son of the deceased Sultan
bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, has been one of the central figures in creating
Al-Qaeda and manipulating militant groups as geo-political tools for
Washington since the Cold War.
He was the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. from 1983
to 2005. He has been a key figure in the intelligence war in Lebanon against
Hezbollah and its allies and involved in exporting Fatah Al-Islam to Lebanon
in an attempt to help the Hariri family fight Hezbollah and the March 8
Because he was the Saudi ambassador to Washington, he became the key figure
in Saudi-U.S. relations and developed close ties to
Bush family, which
earned him the name “Bandar Bush.”
It has been reported that the relationship was
so close that the U.S. Secret Service was part of his security detail.
Moreover, he has had a long history with Robert Gates, starting from
when Gates was a member of the CIA and helping mobilize fighters in
Afghanistan against the Soviets. 
In 2009, Bandar may have attempted to launch a silent coup in Saudi Arabia
to impose his father, Crown Prince Sultan, as the new absolute monarch of
Saudi Arabia. He was not seen for several years and may have been in some
form of confinement. Things changed, however, in 2011 with the Arab Spring;
Prince Bandar, Washington’s man, was seen in public again.
Bandar may also be a key figure in Saudi negotiations with Pakistan to
purchase nuclear bombs. 
United Press International writes:
“As Iran becomes more dangerous and the
United States becomes more reluctant to engage in military missions
overseas, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia may find that renewed military and
nuclear cooperation is the best way to secure their interests,” observed
Christopher Clary and Mara E. Karlin, former [Pentagon] policy advisers
on South Asia and the Middle East. 
The picture that UPI depicts actually is
If anyone is pushing the Saudis to acquire
nuclear weapons, it is Washington. The U.S. has also been heavily arming the
Saudi regime and the GCC for the same reasons.
One dimension of the U.S. strategy is clear:
Washington aims to create multiple and ongoing contained conflicts in the
Middle East to bleed the region and keep it immobilized. Like the Israelis,
the U.S. wants perpetual civil war in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and even
By being duped into burning its bridges with
Syria, the Turkish government has laid the foundations for the
destabilization of the Turkish republic.
A Tale of Two Security
Days after the appointment of Prince Bandar and the attack of the Syrian
Crisis Unit an attack on General Intelligence’s Headquarters in Riyadh was
reported by Yemen’s Al-Fajr Press and then widely quoted by the Iranian
The blast is reported to have killed Bandar’s
number two man, the deputy director-general of Saudi external intelligence,
while he was entering the building. Rumors are also circulating that Bandar
may have been hurt or killed.
Saudi Arabia has remained silent over the issue.
The blast in Riyadh is no mere coincidence. It is a retaliatory response to
the blast in the Syrian National Security Headquarters. The chances that the
Syrians executed the operation while all their energies are being spent on
fighting against the U.S.-directed siege on their country are marginal, but
This is speculation, but it is most likely that
one of Syria’s friends and allies retaliated against the Saudis for their
involvement in the attack on the Crisis Unit in Damascus.
A remote-controlled bomb was also discovered in front of a Yemenese
Intelligence building in Aden on July 22, 2012. 
The event came shortly after a Yemenese
intelligence officer died after a targeted attack in the province of Bayda.
 What this means is a matter of speculation, but what is clear is that
the intelligence apparatus of Arab states are being targeted.
There is a full-out intelligence war in the
Middle East and there are probably cross-cutting alliances.
The Bush Jr. Administration’s “Redirection” Policy
Manifest under Obama
In Yemen, the national military has successfully been fractured and divided,
which is exactly what Washington, DC and its NATO and GCC allies want to
replicate in Syria.
Regime change is not their only goal, the
destruction and balkanization of the Syrian Arab Republic is. They want
sectarianism and balkanization to take root in Syria and across the Middle
To paraphrase, when the so-called spiritual
leaders of the Syrian Free Army and anti-government forces begin saying
“Israel and the Sunnis are allies against
the Shias” or that “all Alawites must be exterminated,”
...it is clear that the end goal is to
regionally divide and conquer the peoples of the Middle East by pitting them
against one another.
This is part of the Middle East policy that the Bush Jr. White House called
the “redirection” in 2007:
“The ‘redirection,’ as some inside the White
House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer
to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region,
propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni
Robert Gates, Bandar’s old comrade, was brought
into the Pentagon to oversee this “redirection” and retained by
who’s “A New Beginning” Speech in Cairo is an extension of this policy.
The New Yorker is worth quoting about what the
“redirection” policy began to implement:
“[Washington] has also taken part in
clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of
these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that
espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and
sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” 
Regardless of the political position that one
takes about President Assad and his government, what has to be emphasized is
that the governments of,
...are not involving themselves under the cover of the so-called “international
community” on the basis of concern for the Syrian people and their well
Because of them the words “protester” and
“activist” have been hijacked by anti-government militias and foreign
intelligence services. Humanitarianism and human rights are not the motive
for U.S. involvement. This is a fairy-tale for the naïve.
Geo-political opportunism is at play and all the
parties involved have blood on their hands at the expense of the Syrian
1. David Ignatius, “Looking for a Syrian
endgame,” The Washington Post, July 18, 2012.
3. Ali Bluwi, “Role of Russia and Iran in Syrian crisis,” Arab News,
July 28, 2012.
4. Naveed Ahmad, “Failing Damascus, Aleppo campaigns expose lack of
military expertise,” The News, July 27, 212.
6. “Syria: Damascus clashes prompt claims of high-level assassinations -
Sunday 20 May,” The Guardian, May 20, 2012.
7. Edward W. Said, Orientalism, 25th anniversary ed. (NYC: Vintage
Books, 1979), p.307.
8. “Chinese, Iranian press alone back UN Syria veto,” British
Broadcasting Corporation News, February 6, 2012; Robert Mackey, “Crisis
in Syria Looks Very Different on Satellite Channels Owned by Russia and
Iran,” The Lede (The New York Times), February 10, 2012.
9. Damien McElroy, “Syria: Bashar al-Assad ‘flees to Latakia,’” The
Daily Telegraph, July 19, 2012; Khaled Yacoub Owei,” Syrian President
Assad in Latakia: opposition sources,” eds. Samia Nakhoul and Diana
Abdallah, Reuters, July 19, 2012; Loveday Morris, “Hunt for Assad is on
amid claims of wife Asma’s exit to Russia,” The Independent, July 20,
10. “Russia says ‘not thinking about’ asylum for Assad,” Reuters, July
11. “Hague: some information Gaddafi on way to Venezuela,” Reuters,
February 21, 2011.
12. “Putin no longer backs Syria’s Assad – Cameron,” Reuters, June 19,
2012; “Lavrov Denies Russia ‘Changed Stance’ on Syria,” Russian News and
Information Agency (RIA Novosti), June 21, 2012.
13. Angus McDowall, “Saudi Prince Bandar: a flamboyant, hawkish spy
chief,” ed. Mark Heinrich, Reuters, July 20, 2012.
14. In fact, one of the reasons that Robert Gates, who was the defence
secretary of the Bush Jr. Administration, was kept by the Obama
Administration is tied to Washington’s objectives to remobilize the
militant brigades against Arab societies.
15. “Saudis ‘mull buying nukes from Pakistan,’” United Press
International, July 25, 2012.
17. Mohammed Mukhashaf and Rania El Gamal, “Yemen defuses bomb at Aden
intelligence building,” ed. Tim Pearce, Reuters, July 23, 2012.
18. “Yemen intelligence officer shot dead: ministry,” Agence France-Presse,
July 21, 2012.
19. Seymour Hersh, “The Redirection,” The New Yorker, vol. 83, no. 2
(March 5, 2007): p.54.