Nevada Daily Mail
Sam Foursha's experience as a U.S. State Department reconstruction consultant in Afghanistan and Iraq has provided him with insights into turmoil in Libya, Syria, Egypt and Iran.
The retired U.S. Navy captain says the "Arab Spring" demonstrations that fomented governmental overthrows in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have not spread to Syria and Iran because those dictators are more entrenched.
Foursha said the theft of more than 100 Russian-made Stinger missiles when Libya fell in October last year has not been solved, worrying U.S. security agencies that the compact missiles might be used to shoot down passenger jets. "After they get into power like Muammar Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein, it is a real temptation with all the oil money and absolute power not to give up any power for democracy or serve the people," the Nevadan said.
"Most of these guys are not going to leave just because some protests are out there. They have an army behind them with lots of weapons and have invested their whole lives there. They're not in touch with reality.
"But it's a slippery slope. We need to know who we're helping because we may be trying to help the wrong guy."
Foursha said a top emphasis for peacekeeping nations watching roiling Mideast countries should be "to see and continue monitoring where the different types of weapons are stored.
"The Stinger missiles in Libya should have been secured quickly because they could be a source of weapons for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups," he said. "It's hard to control in Syria, where they have chemical weapons. This is not the type of thing you want to have slip away from you."
Foursha said the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Behghazi, Libya, where the ambassador and three other Americans died, "was not from a lack of resources or a diplomatic failure, it was a failure in intelligence that led to a failure in security.
"I went on 200 missions over four years in Iraq and Afghanistan, traveling outside the wire in three to five armored vehicles with the Army, Marines and Blackwater USA personnel," he said. "The regional security officer has ultimate authority for security. Only the ambassador can override the RSO."
Foursha said Ambassador Christopher Stevens had come to Benghazi from Tripoli. "Libya is a very fluid situation," he said.
"The intel wasn't there that an organized force had the ability to attack like that. Had they known anything like that, the visit would have never taken place."
If the attack had happened in Afghanistan, Foursha said, a quick response force "would have been there in 10 to 15 minutes."
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, said in a news release that the House Armed Services Committee is determined to find the truth. "What happened that day?" she asked.
"Why did President Obama and his national security advisers fail to order in nearby military forces to come to the aid of the struggling consulate staff members while they were under attack? Why did the State Department fail to supply more security forces despite repeated requests for protection throughout the summer?
"If this matter has been mishandled by the administration, as it appears it has, the American people have a right to know," Hartzler said.
Foursha said the general populations of Syria and Iran "have been fairly moderate while their leaderships are extreme.
"Tunisia was the easiest revolution," he said. "Second was Egypt, where they had overwhelming support and the change of government was fairly bloodless."
Noting that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Admadinejad have thus far resisted efforts to depose them, Foursha said, "We have thought it would be over earlier in Syria.
"The longer Al-Assad hangs on, the more solid he becomes, backed by Russia and Iran. We saw the same thing in Iran and it just didn't happen."