Pedro Molina

Defusing the Syrian Time Bomb

According to the CIA’s deputy director, Michael Morell, Syria’s civil war is "the greatest threat to US national security" – indeed, “probably the most important issue in the world today.” Given the absence of a coherent US policy, is Barack Obama’s administration stumbling toward the abyss?

TEL AVIV – It is remarkable that a stern warning about the scale of the threat posed to the United States by Syria’s civil war has gone practically unnoticed. Is President Barack Obama’s administration stumbling toward the abyss?

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that, according to the CIA’s deputy director, Michael Morell, “Syria’s volatile mix of Al Qaeda extremism and civil war now poses the greatest threat to US national security” – indeed, “probably the most important issue in the world today.” By contrast, Morell described the Iranian regime’s “merging of...nuclear ambitions with its desire to be a hegemonic power in the Middle East” as a mere “cause for concern.” Morell, who is preparing to step down from the CIA soon, has little reason to dissemble.

Just two months ago, in mid-June, when the Syrian crisis was the focus of international attention and the subject of heated policy debate, such a statement by a senior administration official would have drawn strong reactions from several quarters. But Syria has since moved from the center of attention, displaced by the coup and ongoing crisis in Egypt, the threat of an Al Qaeda terror offensive in Yemen and elsewhere, and the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

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