What's happening in Syria has all the hallmarks of a classic, 1950s-era, Cold War-style CIA coup d'etat scheme.
First, on March 7 a gaggle of demonstrators-no more than 20 to 30, according to The New York Times on March 8-was squelched by Syrian police, who arrested not only the demonstrators but swooped up a "junior diplomat from the American Embassy," says the Times. "The United States government protested the detention of the American diplomat to the Syrian government, a spokesman for the embassy told The Associated Press." Now the question is: what was a "junior diplomat" from the United States doing there in the first place. Could he have been from the CIA? (Syria is wondering the same thing.)
Second, the Bush administration is going to announce sanctions against Syria this week, thanks to a law passed by Congress demanding them. On March 12, The Washington Post reported:
The new law has two key parts. First, it requires the administration to ban the export of any dual-use goods that could be channeled into the production of weapons of mass destruction. Some exemptions will be made for products that might be included, such as communications gear, congressional sources said.
Second, the act requires the administration to pick two of six punitive measures. The White House has indicated to congressional officials that it is leaning toward picking more than two. The main new sanctions will be economic, such as banning U.S. exports to Syria except for humanitarian goods such as food and medicine, congressional and administration officials said. Washington may also block financial transactions by Damascus.
In addition, the administration is expected to prohibit aircraft owned or operated by Syria from flying to the United States or using American airspace, a token measure since no Syrian planes fly anywhere near the United States, U.S. officials said.
The most problematic and debated step proposed by the act calls for banning U.S. businesses from investing or operating in Syria, congressional and administration officials said. U.S. oil companies, including ConocoPhillips Co. and Devon Energy Corp., have business interests in Syria.