The Syria I Knew: On the Fall of the House of Assad

January 29th, 2013RESET+

THE FIFTEEN BRANCHES of Syria’s intelligence apparatus, themukhabarat, count some 50,000 to 70,000 full-time officers, along with hundreds of thousands of part-time personnel and informers. By 2011 it was estimated there was one intelligence officer for every 240 or so Syrians. A third of the country’s military budget has historically gone to the security services, including the Palestine Branch of Military Intelligence, which does not gather intelligence against Israel (the regime’s nominal enemy), but rather monitors Syria’s 500,000-strong Palestinian population (along with many Syrians) and runs a notorious detention and torture center in Damascus. “The garbage collectors are intelligence agents,” a protester told the Associated Press after 120 people were killed in two days of protests in April 2011. “Sometimes we think even our wives are working with the intelligence. All the phones are monitored. We live in hell.”

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