Flashback; a Guardian article provides documentary evidence of a conspiracy. It cites a report, found by Matthew Jones, a specialist in British and US postwar foreign policy at the University of London, in the private papers of Duncan Sandys, Macmillan’s defence secretary, setting out the nuts and bolts of a plan, including proposed assassinations
A document was drawn up in Washington by the top echelons of the CIA and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), as MI6 was then called. It shows that they planned to use agents provocateurs to launch a series of incidents. These events would create political turmoil to provide a pretext by Syria’s pro-Western neighbours to mount an invasion in support of the government’s right-wing opponents.
A key element of the plan was to assassinate three leading figures:
Abd al-Hamid, head of Syrian military intelligence, Afif al-Bizri, the pro-Soviet chief of staff, and Khalid Bakdash, leader of the Syrian Communist Party.
The report was quite plain. It stated, “In order to facilitate the action of liberative forces, reduce the capabilities of the Syrian regime to organise and direct its military actions, to hold losses and destruction to a minimum, and to bring about desired action in the shortest possible time, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals.
The removal should be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention and in the light of the circumstances existing at the time.”
“Once a political decision is reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS [MI6] will attempt, to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals.
“The two services should consult, as appropriate, to avoid overlapping or interfering with each other’s activities… Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus; the operation should not be overdone; and to the extent possible care should be taken to avoid causing key leaders of the Syrian regime to take additional personal protection measures.”
Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence “finding,” a presidential document containing an authoritative decision, broadly permits the CIA and other US agencies to provide support that could help the militants.
Meanwhile, the White House has reportedly set aside $25 million for aid to the armed groups, although the assistance remains limited to non-lethal supplies such as communications gear, the State Department said on Wednesday.
The Obama administration originally set aside $15 million to help the Syrian opposition, but some time ago added another $10 million to the amount available, department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
“The 25 million dollar number actually is the number we’re working from,” Ventrell told a regular daily news briefing.
“I don’t have the exact number of the money that has been has been spent… but the bottom line is we’ve already spent millions of dollars of this 25 million dollar pot and will continue as the requests come in,” he said.
Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department approved a license allowing the Washington Syrian Support Group to provide direct financial assistance to the so-called “Free Syrian Army”. The Washington-based representative of the FSA is allowed to conduct financial transactions on the rebel group’s behalf but is not allowed to send military equipment.
During the war in Libya, Obama signed a similar directive authorizing covert assistance for rebels in the battle against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.