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The stick for Syria?


The dispatch of retired General Gary Luck to Iraq indicates the Pentagon is having serious second thoughts about its strategy against the insurgency.

A whopping part of the problem—as Washington has increasingly come to recognize (and as I noted in an earlier post)—lies in Syria, where a sympathetic Baathist regime has been providing a haven for the insurgency's leadership and a pipeline for men and materiel. It's also thought to be using its intelligence services to help the insurgents target their attacks.

A propos of these concerns, I somehow missed this little item earlier in the week on DEBKAfile (which is buried at the end of a rather amusing account of a recent meeting between Saddam Hussein and his legal team):

Ever since the December 21 suicide attack on the US forward base in Mosul, when 22 Americans were killed, Allawi has been urging Washington to launch attacks from Iraq on points in Syria – singling out military locations known to intelligence as bases used to assist and train terrorists preparatory to their infiltration of Iraq. The Iraqi prime minister believes that without military action against Syria, three key goals will remain out of reach:

1. A general election on January 30 orderly enough to be a success.

2. An effective deterrent to Tehran’s meddling in Iraq.

3. Victory in the war against the guerrillas.

Sunday, January 2, US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage arrives in Damascus with a final warning from Washington. The Syrian ruler will be informed that the administration is closer than ever before to acceding to Allawi’s demand.

Let's hope this message is in fact the one Armitage delivered—and even more that the U.S. is prepared to back its threat with action.

UPDATE: Newsweek has a story in its current issue regarding what it describes as the "Salvador option" to turn the tide of the insurgency in Iraq: "One Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called 'snatch' operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell Newsweek." The word "assassination" hardly applies in this context, given that the targets we're talking about aren't civilians but enemy combatants actively engaged in trying to kill Americans and Iraqis—but that's your mainstream media for you. People who use suicide bombs to slaughter civilians are "insurgents" and "guerillas" (not "terrorists"), while Americans and freedom-loving Iraqis who try to put a stop to their murderous activities are "assassins." Whatever they're called, let's hope they're given free rein to clean out the mess that Phantom (in his comment below) likens to the Laos and Cambodia of 30+ years ago. Who knows? Maybe they'll even turn up some of those missing WMD in Syria I wrote about back in October.

UPDATE: I can't imagine that John Kerry's meeting today with Bashir Assad did anything to reinforce the notion of firm U. S. resolve. Kerry: "I think we found a great deal of areas of mutual interest, some common concerns and some possibilities for initiatives that could be taken in the future to strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and Syria." How lovely. I'm sure that'll frighten Assad into putting the Baathists who are orchestrating the terror operations across the border on the first bus out of Syria.

UPDATE: David Adesnik at Oxblog gives the Newsweek story cited above a well-deserved fisking: "There are so many things wrong with Newsweek's statement that it's hard to know where to begin."

Posted by Rodger on January 8, 2005 at 09:57 AM | Permalink


I will never understand why the CIA ignored Yossef Bodansky. I believe it was prior to 9/11 when he noted that WMD were almost totally gone from Iraq and delivered to Syria, Sudan and one other radical Islamist country.

Most of Bodansky's intell came from middle eastern intelligence services.

Just what in the hell has the CIA been doing? I have no doubt that they tracked this intelligence information, but where did it go?

I know for a fact that specialists had first hand knowledge of these events, but were rebuffed and marginalized if they reported their findings. I belive my information to be accurate, although I have had no first hand contact.

There are many operators who know the truth. And to those many others, you know how to contact me; I cannot contact you.

The World is asking the wrong question. The World knew what Iraq's stockpiles of WMD were. TONS of bio and chem weapons, where less than a drop would kill hundreds or thousands of people.

The question is not why didn't we find anything, the real question is where are Saddam's WMD?

I would bet my family jewels on one place, in particular. Syria has morphed itself into Cambodia and Laos. And I am certain our President is a student of history, and will not allow Vietnam, re deaux.

Syria should know full well that if ANYTHING happens on US soil, Damascus is the second vaporized city. The Saudi's can deal with number one.

Posted by: Phantom | Jan 8, 2005 8:58:13 PM

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