Bottom Line: Our attempts at offering probability scenarios for an end game in Syria are crippled by the intensified meddling of a growing number of private actors who have formed dubious alliances. These private actors have exponentially increased their footprint in Syria and this is causing reverberations among the Syrian rebel formations, as well as additional splits that have too many groups vying for weapons, funding and logistics support. This meddling is working to further sideline the Syrian opposition’s attempts at overthrowing Assad.
Analysis: The profile of one particular group presents a troubling scenario as it involves private actors from the US, weapons warehouses and Qatari money. This loosely formed group of associates are led by people who are involved in the Templars, and who view themselves as contributing to the Syrian rebel cause with the broader objective of saving the “Holy Land” (from Iran). Our intelligence shows that this group has enjoyed first access to Syrian military defectors in Jordan, and that it also has access to a warehouse of weapons in an Eastern European country. The immediate objective is to get the Qataris to purchase these weapons for the Syrian rebels. The group has connections to Syrians in Washington DC who are liaising through a private intelligence company that has been less than cautious with its intelligence cables.
While we do not believe that these efforts have been successful, the overall significance of this is that the end game in Syria is being shaped by an obsession with containing Iran at all costs. The US government itself has backed away from what is largely a Qatari effort to arm Salafi jihadists in Syria to fight the Assad regime. This has caused private actors to step in. Our intelligence estimates that the genuine Syrian rebel forces have been infiltrated at least 40% by these extremist forces. The wider geopolitical implication of “containing” Iran is the creation of a region dominated first by the Muslim Brotherhood and then by its predecessor, the Salafi jihadists, who are likely to draw Lebanon fully into the conflict and then to descend on Jordan’s monarchy.