Veteran newsman Michael Vaux plans to enjoy early retirement. But the British Secret Service has other ideas: they discover his earlier, youthful friendship with Ahmed Kadri, Syria’s chief armaments buyer. It’s 1992, and MI6 is convinced Syria is about to sign a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Russia that could upset the delicate balance of power in the Middle East. But nothing goes according to plan. Vaux, who has agreed to a one-off deal with MI6, mysteriously disappears from the Geneva Middle East peace conference while Russia uses the international confab as a smokescreen for secret negotiations with Syria.
Vaux resurfaces with photocopies of the arms accord and his superiors at MI6 are elated. Enter the CIA. The U.S. spy agency claims that Vaux’s version of the deal is ‘chicken feed’–a deliberate deception by the Syrians. Has Vaux colluded in this ruse? MI6 rebuffs the unwelcome charges by the American cousins and dispatches Vaux to Tangier where Kadri has suddenly sought self-exile following a surprise coup by a small circle of President Al Assad’s Shia [Alawite] supporters. Vaux’s task again is to pump critical Syrian intelligence from Kadri, now presumably a bitter and disillusioned former top official of the Syrian regime. The final outcome of Vaux’s trip to Morocco is as much a stunning surprise to MI6 as to himself.