News Release

What Happened to Syria? What’s Next?

CHARLES GLASS, charlesglassbooks at gmail.com, @CharlesMGlass
Currently based in London, Glass is former Mideast Correspondent for ABC News. His latest book is They Fought Alone: The True Story of the Starr Brothers, British Secret Agents in Nazi-Occupied France. It tells the story of the Special Operations Executive, set up by Churchill in 1940 to “set Europe ablaze.” The SOE would train the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, which became the CIA.

He is also author of Syria Burning and recently wrote the piece “Tell Me How This Ends” for Harper’s about the Obama administration’s policy on Syria. See his website: CharlesGlass.net.

In a very recent talk at Dartmouth College, he gave critical background and assessments about the future of Syria:

Syria, after the French departed in 1946, had a parliamentary democracy until 1949 when, in order to force through an Aramco oil pipeline from Saudi Arabia through Jordan and Syria to Lebanon, the CIA overthrew the elected government. This ushered in a period of almost annual coups in Syria, typically by a colonel backed by either the CIA, KGB or British MI6. This ended with the rule of Hafez Assad in 1970. Glass notes that part of the reason Assad was able to rule the country was that he came from the Alawite minority, members of whom were placed in key positions of power by the French.

Glass notes that despite Bashar Assad’s apparent victory, the Syrian civil war was much bloodier and more prolonged because of outside powers — the U.S., Russia and Iran — backing and arming various sides. The Saudis and the Qataris backed opposing jihadist forces. Thousands of these forces remain in the north of Syria, he warns, now controlled by Turkey, and pose a greater threat than ISIS. The Israeli government, he notes, was quite happy to see Syrians killing each other.

He warned that now, as Assad secures his hold, he will quickly and violently put down any rebellion. He also sees an increased rivalry between Iran and Russia for influence and profit in Syria, though opportunities in Syria will be limited as the U.S. government seeks to keep Syria outside the world economy, which may lead to an expanding black market there.