Assad win may be Syria’s best option: Ex-CIA chief

Assad win may be Syria’s best option: Ex-CIA chief

WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
Assad win may be Syria’s best option: Ex-CIA chief

Former CIA and NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden appears on CBS' "Face the Nation" in Washington in this Nov 3, 2013 handout photo. REUTERS/Chris Usher/CBS News/Handout via Reuters

The sectarian bloodbath in Syria is such a threat to regional security that a victory for Bashar al-Assad’s regime could the best outcome to hope for, a former CIA chief said Dec. 12.

Michael Hayden, the retired U.S. Air Force general who until 2009 was head of the Central Intelligence Agency, said a rebel win was not one of the three possible outcomes he foresees for the conflict. “Option three is Assad wins,” Hayden told the annual Jamestown Foundation conference of terror experts.

“And I must tell you at the moment, as ugly as it sounds, I’m kind of trending toward option three as the best out of three very, very ugly possible outcomes,” he said.

 The first possible outcome he cited was for ongoing conflict between ever more extreme Sunni and Shiite factions. And the second outcome, which Hayden deemed the most likely, was the “dissolution of Syria” and the end of a single state within the borders defined by a 1916 treaty between the French and British empires.

“It means the end of the Sykes-Picot (Agreement), it sets in motion the dissolution of all the artificial states created after World War I,” he said.

The British diplomat Mark Sykes and a French counterpart Francois Georges Picot divided the Middle East into zones of influence that later served as the frontiers of independent Arab states.

A breakdown in the century-old settlement could spread chaos in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, Hayden warned. “I greatly fear the dissolution of the state. A de facto dissolution of Sykes-Picot,” Hayden said. “And now we have a new ungoverned space, at the crossroads of the civilization. The dominant story going on in Syria is a Sunni fundamentalist takeover of a significant part of the Middle East geography, the explosion of the Syrian state and of the Levant as we know it.”