A newly declassified CIA memo from the 1980s discusses how “US interests [in Syria] would be best served by a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates”
Even back in the 1980s, it was clear that provoking a Sunni insurgency fuelled by ethnic and religious hatred was the easiest way to topple the government.
As the memo notes:
Sunnis make up 60 percent of the Syrian officer corps but are concentrated in junior officer ranks; enlisted men are predominantly Sunni conscripts. We believe that a renewal of communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis could inspire Sunnis in the military to turn against the regime.
The ultimate goal? Creating a new, “moderate” Sunni regime that would serve U.S. business interests. (Surprise!)
The Libertarian Institute explains:
While the document is primarily a theoretical exploration projecting scenarios of Syrian regime weakening and collapse (its purpose is analysis and not necessarily policy), the authors admit of its “purposefully provocative” nature (see PREFACE) and closes with a list desired outcomes. One provocative outcome describes a pliant “Sunni regime” serving US economic interests:
“In our view, US interests would be best served by a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates. Business moderates would see a strong need for Western aid and investment to build Syria’s private economy, thus opening the way for stronger ties to Western governments.” [pg. 24]
Ironically, the Syrian government would accuse the United States and its allies of covert subversion within Syria after a string of domestic bombings created diplomatic tensions during the mid-1980’s.
Of course, the CIA’s liberal use of the word “moderate” should be highlighted. And while clearly the geopolitical landscape has shifted significantly since 1986, the reality is that much of this memo could have been written in 2011.
If Russia and Iran hadn’t stopped them, Washington might have gotten away with it.