Is the CIA Losing Its Grip in the Middle East?
Clandestine Services veteran Marc Polymeropoulos laments the demise of deep regional expertise
Marc Polymeropoulos, a 28-year veteran of the CIA’s Clandestine Service directorate, says the CIA lost its “last great Arabist” with the passing of agency legend and Middle East hand Charlie Seidel.
Seidel, who died in 2019, held senior CIA leadership positions in Eqypt, Jordan, Iraq Kuwait and Syria, and once headed operations in the Middle East. He also led the effort to recover the billions that the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi looted from his country.
In an interview conducted with SpyTalk last month, before the outbreak of new fighting between Israel and Hamas, Polymeropoulos maintained that the CIA no longer prizes such long and deep familiarization with the nations and leaders of the Middle East and elsewhere, instead opting for the develpment and deployment of spy corps generalists who can serve anywhere. One year, it’s a tour in Jordan, the next, Taiwan or Buenos Aires.
"We have to move away from this phenomenon of becoming a gen…