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Former CIA agent: Syria showdown stakes running high

PHOENIX -- The Obama administration seems to be more focused on punishing Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime than becoming a game-changer in Syria, a former Central Intelligence Agency agent said.

Paul Kinsinger, currently with the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a former CIA agent who specialized in Middle Eastern affairs, said the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons was clearly out of bounds and the world has drawn boundaries about the use of these weapons. He's concerned that U.S. opposition is made up, in part, by groups that don't have America's best interests in mind.

"This has made it more difficult for the U.S. to make the case to get involved in Syria earlier," he said. "That opposition is fragmented and there's easy player to pick and ally around."

Kinsinger believes the Obama Administration wants to punish the Assad regime but not to the point of making a serious change in that country's civil war. Kinsinger said there could be serious repercussions to military action by the U.S.

"This could range from terrorist attacks on the United States or a missile launch into Israel as Saddam Hussein did during the first Gulf War," he said. "Iran could get into this as could Hezbollah. The administration has contingency plans for these possibilities but there's no way to predict what could happen."

Kinsinger said Syria's chief importance to the U.S. is location. It is bordered by countries the United States cares about: Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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