COVERT ACTION

By Region

Middle East

Generally and Other Countries and Organizations

 

Included here:

1. Generally

2. Cyprus

3. Jordan

4. Lebanon

5. Palestine Liberation Organization

6. Turkey

1. Generally

Cooley, John K. Payback: America's Long War in the Middle East. New York: Brassey's (US), Maxwell Macmillan, Inc., 1991.

Surveillant 2.2: "Of particular interest ... [is the] examination of U.S. intelligence's lack of preparation for the Shah's fall and its ignorance of internal Iranian developments which gradually pulled the U.S. into the region." The article includes other items of intelligence interest.

Copeland, Miles.

1. The Game of Nations: The Amorality of Power Politics. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970

Clark comment: Copeland's account of the CIA's involvement in the Middle East in the 1950s and 1960s needs to be compared with that of Eveland in Ropes of Sand.

Peterson calls this work the "[o]bservations of a former CIA Middle East specialist on events of 1950s and 1960s." Sounding a cautionary note, Constantinides points to a "consensus of those familiar with events" that, as perceptive as some of Copeland's comments may be, his "versions of behind-the-scenes events about which he learned later, and even those in which he said he was a participant, cannot be accepted automatically as reliable and accurate."

See Barrett J. Riordan, "The Plowshare Program and Copeland's Suez Energy Deception," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 17, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 124-143.

2. The Game Player: Confessions of the CIA's Original Political Operative. London: Aurum, 1989.

Eveland, Wilbur Crane. Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East. New York: Norton, 1980.

Clark comment: Eveland's account of the CIA's involvement in the Middle East in the 1950s and 1960s needs to be compared with that of Copeland in The Game of Nations. Petersen identifies Eveland as a "[m]ilitary intelligence officer who served in the Middle East with CIA." For Constantinides, Eveland is at his best when he is dealing with events in which he was involved. "Where he writes without this relationship to events and where he speculates on behind-the-scenes factors and influences, he goes badly off target."

Wilber, Donald N. Adventures in the Middle East: Excursions and Incursions. Princeton, NJ: Darwin, 1986.

Haglund, I&NS 4.3, notes Wilber's claim to have both developed the concept for Operation Ajax and played a major role in making that plan operational. Nevertheless, there is "not ... much new information about US intelligence operations in the Middle East, either during the 1950s or during the war, when Wilber was an OSS agent in Iran."

Wilford, Hugh. America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East. New York: Basic Books, 2013.

Goulden, Washington Times, 22 Jan. 2014, and Intelligencer 20.3 (Spring-Summer 2014), finds that "[d]espite the richness of his material,.... Wilford's book is not an easy read. His sentences tend to wrap themselves into serpentine snarls.... Another shortcoming is all too common among people writing about 20th-century intelligence. The subtitle suggests that the CIA, on its own, worked in secret to shape American policy in an important region, but ... Wilford skirts around an important link in the chain of command; namely, that the agency was acting on White House orders to execute national security policy."

2. Cyprus

O'Malley, Brendan, and Ian Craig. The Cyprus Conspiracy: America, Expionage and the Turkish Invasion. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1999.

From advertisement: "The Cyprus Conspiracy provides crucial evidence that this was no failure of American foreign policy,... but the realization of a long-held plot, revealing for the first time the explosive strategic reasons why Washington had to divide the island." McNay, I&NS 16.3, finds that "the authors sometimes present their 'conspiracy' argument in a tone of breathless astonishment[,]... often sounding a bit overwrought." Nonetheless, this study "provides an interesting and valuable perspective.... The authors do great service to all analyzing the Cyprus issue by illuminating the island's value from an intelligence perspective."

3. Jordan

O'Connell, Jack, with Vernon Loeb. King’s Counsel: A Memoir of War, Espionage, and Diplomacy in the Middle East. New York: Norton, 2011.

According to Peake, Studies 55.4 (Dec. 2011) and Intelligencer 19.1 (Winter-Spring 2012), the author, a CIA officer, maintained a close relationship with Jordanian King Hussein from 1958 until he left the Agency in 1972. Afterward he served as Jordan's lawyer in the United States. This is "more than a biography of a king, it is a valuable memoir with an unusual perspective on events in the Arab world."

Young, Boston Globe, 27 May 2011, sees this as a "straight-shooting book" by "a former CIA agent [sic] who served as station chief in Amman, Jordan, and acted as King Hussein's adviser, attorney, and diplomatic counselor for three decades." In fact, King's Counsel "is as much an apologia for the late monarch as a memoir." For Pillar, Washington Post, 14 Jul. 2011, "Hussein relied on the CIA not only for intelligence vital to his own security but also as his principal conduit to the U.S. government and a partner in his diplomatic endeavors." The book has "the obligatory spy vignettes,... but these are digressions from the main story about Hussein, war and peace."

Woodward, Bob. "CIA Paid Millions to Jordan's King Hussein." Washington Post, Feb. 18, 1977, A1.

 

4. Lebanon

Alin, Erika. The United States and the 1958 Lebanon Crisis. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1994.

Lucas, I&NS 12.3, calls this a "closely argued and well-documented study." The author avoids "the trap of arguing that the US unconditionally opposed Arab nationalism." The reviewer also notes that Alin is evaluating U.S. diplomatic and conventional military responses to events in the Lebanon and throughout the Middle East," rather than focusing on intelligence and covert action issues.

Fry, Michael Graham. "The Uses of Intelligence: The United Nations Confronts the United States in the Lebanon Crisis, 1958." Intelligence and National Security 10, no. 1 (Jan. 1995): 59-91.

Fry argues that UN Secretary General Hammarskjold achieved considerable success in 1958. This success was in no small part due to the "reach and accuracy" of the intelligence gathered through the United Nations Observer Group in Lebanon (UNOGIL), in competition with the CIA.

Goldman, Adam, and Ellen Nakashima. "CIA and Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Figure in Car Bombing." Washington Post, 30 Jan. 2015. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"[F]ive former U.S. intelligence officials" have confirmed "U.S. involvement in the killing" of "Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah's international operations chief," in Damascus on 12 February 2008. "The United States helped build the bomb," a CIA team tracked Mughniyah's movements, and Mossad agents triggered the device remotely from Tel Aviv. "The authority to kill Mughniyah required a presidential finding by President George W. Bush.... In the leadup to the operation, U.S. intelligence officials had assured lawmakers in a classified briefing that there would be no collateral damage, former officials said."

Harnden, Toby. "CIA Gets the Go-ahead to Take on Hizbollah." Telegraph (London), 10 Jan. 2007. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

A finding signed by President George W. Bush before Christmas 2006 authorizes the CIA "to take covert action against Hizbollah ... to help the Lebanese government prevent the spread of Iranian influence. Senators and congressmen have been briefed on the classified 'non-lethal presidential finding' that allows the CIA to provide financial and logistical support to the prime minister, Fouad Siniora."

Karabell, Zachary. Architects of Intervention: The United States, the Third World, and the Cold War, 1946-1962. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1999.

Cohen, FA 78.6 (Nov.-Dec. 1999), believes that the author "writes well and does a service by combining case studies on American intervention in Greece, Italy, Iran, Guatemala, Lebanon, Cuba, and Laos. He is strongest on Iran and Lebanon, weakest on Cuba and Laos, and includes no studies of intervention by the Soviets, Chinese, British, or French." To Sullivan, I&NS 16.2, this is "a readable engaging work," the basic thesis of which is that "local elites essentially manipulated the United States into intervening in their countries to shore up reactionary forces there."

5. Palestine Liberation Organization

Ignatius, David. "Secret Strategies...." Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2004, A25. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"One of the more improbable chapters in the life of Yasser Arafat was his wink-and-nod understanding with the CIA. In secret, Arafat for the past 30 years allowed his top intelligence officers to maintain regular contact with the agency."

6. Turkey

Komisar, Lucy. "Turkey's Terrorists: A CIA Legacy Lives On." The Progressive, Apr. 1997, 24-27.

According to the author, the CIA ended its funding of stay-behind organizations in Turkey in the 1970s. However, the organizations remained in place and spearheaded rightist attacks on leftist groups and individuals.

Return to Covert Action Table of Contents