American intelligence officers have been so focused on tracking individual terrorists in failing states since 9/11 that they failed to predict the popular uprisings that have all but swept away decades of contacts and cooperation.
According to Newsweek, the changes that have accompanied the Arab Spring in the Middle East and across North Africa. have been an unwelcome surprise to US intelligence agents who have lost not only local allies, but unrestricted access.
Egypt was the first to go and by some accounts it will be the most-missed. It was there that for 30 years the CIA could hand over anyone it wished to General Omar Suleiman for a quick and effective interrogation. In Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, intelligence officers are struggling to retain their footing.
The situation has become a genuine concern among experts in the region. One senior intelligence officer, who refuses to be named, says: “All this celebration of democracy is just bullshit. You take the lid off and you don’t know what’s going to happen. I think disaster is lurking.”