Obama approved elements of CIA plans that go back over 65 years. The CIA meddling is distinct from the Pentagon's failed plan to train moderate rebels, not covered in this timeline.
1940s and 1950s "…if you want to understand the origins of authoritarian rule in Syria today, it is important to go back to the 1940s and the 1950s and see the role the CIA played in that land." See also here, p. 122: "In the late 1940's, U.S. policymakers grew alarmed when the Syrian government, bowing to public pressure, refused to let a U.S. oil company build a pipeline through its territory. Washington also found the strong anti-Western sentiment and the large Communist party in the country ominous. Concerned that Syria was 'drifting leftward', the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) laid plans to overthrow its three-year old civilian government." CIA operatives met with right-wing military leaders in Damascus to discuss installing a "military-supported dictatorship".
1947-1948 CIA attempts "to influence the 1947-8 elections by backing right-wing figures in the Nationalist Party…"