Cipher Brief Expert: Russia Wins When U.S. Stops Arming Anti-Assad Rebels

By Robert Richer

Robert Richer served as a former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at the CIA.  He retired in 2005 and before his retirement he also served as Chief of the Near East and South Asia Division, responsible for Clandestine Service Operations throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Mr. Richer currently consults on Middle East and national security issues and is a senior partner with International Advisory Partners.

President Trump has decided to end the CIA-sponsored program to arm Syrian anti-Assad rebels, according to a Washington Post report on Wednesday. The newspaper quotes U.S. officials as saying the decision to wind down the Obama-era program was made almost one month ago after a meeting in the Oval Office with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. As questions swirl about what this means for U.S. policy in Syria, The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel asked former Associate Deputy Director of Operations at the CIA Robert Richer what he sees in this decision, and who benefits the most.

TCB: What are your thoughts on the recent decision by the Trump Administration to cancel the CIA-sponsored program to arm anti- Assad rebels? What does this mean for U.S. policy in Syria?

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